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 now reaches 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.
In September 2019, after a deep decline in traffic, the railroad filed for bankruptcy and was put in the hands of a receiver. It continues to operate, pending legal outcomes.
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.