ADMIN NOTE: After a lengthy delay I am finally rebuilding this section of the website. Please check back soon for San Luis & Rio Grande content.
On June 30th, 2003, the newly-formed San Luis & Rio Grande Railroad (SLRG) took ownership of the former Union Pacific trackage in Colorado’s San Luis Valley. Built in the 1870’s by the Denver & Rio Grande, the tracks were operated by that railroad into the 1990’s. Rio Grande’s 1988 merger with Southern Pacific brought cosmetic but few operational changes, and the 1996 buyout by Union Pacific was more of the same. However, UP was in the business of shedding light branch lines, so the tracks beyond Walsenburg were sold to the SLRG, a creation of RailAmerica.
The railroad is based in Alamosa, and its tracks radiate from there in three directions: west as far as South Fork, south to Antonito, and east over La Veta Pass to Walsenburg. More details of the operating practices can be found here and here; they haven’t changed much from the 1980’s. Customers come and go, but the overall patterns remain consistent.
On December 22, 2005, RailAmerica sold the operation to Permian Basin Railways, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Iowa Pacific Holdings. The new owners decided to reestablish passenger service on the railroad. In May 2006 a new passenger excursion service was inaugurated, which reached Antonito, Monte Vista, and La Veta, including intermediate points.
In 2007, standard-gauge steam was introduced when the railroad acquired Mogul No. 1744, ex-Southern Pacific, and two more steamers later in 2007. See here for more details. However, the steam service didn’t last long; high maintenance costs were not offset by revenues.
By 2019, various conditions caused the San Luis & Rio Grande to fall on hard times– mostly, financial problems at the corporate level (Permian). In September of that year the SLRG filed for bankruptcy protection, and was soon placed under the direction of a court-appointed receiver. Concurrent with these developments came major changes in operations in the valley. Passenger operations (the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad) came to a halt at the end of that season, and the locomotive roster was gutted. To make matters worse, the COVID-19 outbreak ruled out any consideration of restarting passenger excursions in 2020. The future is very uncertain at this point, although as of this writing freight operations continue.
This site is a collection of photographs taken since the inception of the SLRG, and includes freight and passenger operations. I also include a few trip reports. Follow the links to the specific categories.