I was asked to speak at the Heritage Railway Association conference in Santa Fe last week. The conference events included a Cumbres Turn. It was a balmy day leaving Chama, and I don't know what I was thinking, but I found out why Windy Point got that name and as we pulled into Cumbres it was obvious that winter has been there for a month.
The rest of the passengers got off, there was a run buy (including a magnificent wheel slip), and 8 of us were allowed to reboard to enjoy our box lunch while the crew switched cars (one engine ferried the rest of the train to Antonio). I watched the Brakie tromping out in the snow setting brakes and directing switch moves. We usually experience this railroad in the summer and I have a new appreciation for the harsh conditions of working on the railroad in the winter. That Brakie was out there in the snow and wind for most of an hour. He came into the car with rosie cheeks to count the passengers and then retreated to the last car to enjoy his box lunch and the ride down the 4% in peace.
Once again the Cumbres & Toltec has provided a magical experience. What year is it anyway?