Colorado trip for Private Car ride: Part 3
Pueblo to Amarillo via BNSF Boise City Sub
Sept. 23, 2010

Photos by Dave Ingles

Departure time for the AAPRCO convention special from Pueblo, Colo., was moved back from 7 or 8 a.m. to 10 or 10:30, owing to trackwork on the Boise City Sub. This line was the reason most "mileage collectors" rode this train. Built by the Santa Fe and not finished until the 1930's, it links the current Amtrak Southwest Chief route, at Las Animas Jct., Colo. (pictured), with Amarillo, Texas, via Springfield, Colo., Boise City, Okla., and Stratford, Texas. It is not signaled but has heavy welded rail, as it serves as the southbound portion of "directional running" for Powder River Basin coal trains bound for Texas. Loads use this route, and empties use the old FW&D-Colorado & Southern route via Dalhart, Texas, Des Moines, N.Mex., and Trinidad and Walsenburg, Colo.

Two dozen of us were paid guests of St. Louis-based Meteor Rail for the day, riding in its ex-Frisco sleeper Cimarron River, which was coupled second from the rear of the 19-car train, ahead of Caritas, the car of convention chairman Clark Johnson. "Cimmy" and Caritas often operate together for Johnson's High Iron Travel Corp., but Clark didn't want to mess with reservations and ticketing for more than his own car, having to deal with convention-related issues. We traveled "picnic class" with light food served in Bedrooms A-B, opened en-suite to serve as the "dining lounge." We were allowed in Caritas for limited-time visits. Power was Amtrak P42's 85, 194, 23, and 11, and the consist (with either heritage or color scheme in parens) was: Burrard (CN), Pacific Sands (UP), Scottish Thistle (CN), Virginia City (CP/SP), Sierra Hotel (ex-Q dome), Puget Sound (ex-Q dome), Birch Grove (SP), Observatory (NP), Chapel Hill (C&O), Wisconsin (MILW), Federal (Pullman), Vista Canyon (ATSF), Silver Iris (ex-Q), Northern Sky (WSOR colors, ex-UP), Northern Dreams (ditto), J. Pinckney Henderson (L&C), Hollywood Beach (SAL), Cimarron River, and Caritas. This is the eventual rear of the train.

Clark Johnson is interviewed by a local TV reporter in Pueblo as marshalling the train together on BNSF team tracks was getting under way.

Cimmy and Caritas passengers, from left: Phil Moser (Elgin, IL), Ed Graham (Palo Alto, CA), John Arbuckle (Hutchinson, KS), Al Butler (Boston area), Rick Moser (Naperville, IL).

Renzenberger brings crew to trainside.

We pulled ahead into the BNSF (ex-Santa Fe yard, w/ C&S as tenant) to begin backup move to Pueblo Jct.

Backing up, we pass the old Pueblo Union Depot and adjacent railroad museum equipment displays.

The AAPRCO convention banquet was in the depot's main hall.

The Santa Fe 4-8-4 was moved from a nearby streetside display. The orange and white caboose is Colorado & Wyoming.

In Roomette 7, Rick Moser's GPS will always tell us where we are.

Enjoying a late "continental brunch" in the "dining lounge" are (from left), Chuck Weinstock (Pittsburgh, PA); Bill Crawford (Boston area), our car attendant; and John Ehrlich (also Boston area).

Crawford fired back, at Graham, Phil Bush (Washington, DC), and yours truly, JDI.

At Avondale, Colo., we overtook a coal load also headed east (timetable south on the Boise City Sub, which this segment now is part of).

Along U.S. 50, heading for La Junta.

Manzanola from the train; yesterday we photo'ed this from the parking lot.

I believe FSRR is Fort Smith Railroad, in Arkansas. (Editor Note: Correct)

Leaving La Junta after a pilot change and quick service stop on one car.

At Las Animas, it's possible to get the county courthouse and vacant Santa Fe depot in one photo, which I did from the ground in 2009.

Curving south on "new mileage" at Las Animas Jct.

On the Boise City Sub, heading geographically and timetable south, at MP 220 (from Denver). This is high scenery for this line.

Evidence of why we left Pueblo later than originally planned.

On Caritas' rear platform (from left): Ralph Alvarez (age 93, from York, PA); Arbuckle, a "Santa Fe man"; and Clark Johnson.

The only town of consequence on the line in Colorado, Springfield, also served by an ATSF branch from the east. The route we are riding offered "mixed" service right up until Amtrak.

The depot is relocated into a city park.

Southeast of town, one leg of the wye with the branch to the east (now a shortline) is severed; the southeast leg is intact.

Heading for Oklahoma.

Looking north, sleeper Cimarron River crosses its namesake, the first time in its preservation career that it has done so with co-owner Tony Marchiando on board; on a previous crossing, on the line between Clinton and Enid, Okla., a photo run was made, but Tony was not on the trip. Along here, on parallel U.S. Highway 287 (at right), truck traffic was surprisingly very heavy.

Tony's trip is "complete," so he celebrates.

The skyline of Boise City, Okla. (pronounced BOYS, not Boy-zee).

Turning south out of Boise City, whose depot is also relocated to a city park.

Think of the mileage a 93-year-old collector has ridden!

This SUV chased us for hundreds of miles.

A few of the trucks on 287.

State Line Road, looking from Texas into Oklahoma; though the railroad had no markers, the highway did, of course.

Just inside Texas is the community of Kerrick, the only trackside depot we saw south of Las Animas.

Here's "the whole town."

This is Stratford, Texas., where we cross UP's former RI/SSW Golden State Route. The Santa Fe depot here was the subject of a short article in TRAINS about 1984 or 1985, when Editor David Morgan and I drove thru here with SSW P.R. man Jim Johnson and visited the Santa Fe station agent. NSS means north siding switch on the sign.

In Etter, Texas, a glimpse of Geeps of shortline Texas & Northwestern; one is in Iowa Interstate colors.

Italian dinner in Bedroom A

Owing to the later departure, the last 20 miles or more were after dark, though Cartias' track lights did help a little. We pulled thru the junctions at Amarillo and parked for the night at Zita, an intermodal loading area west of town on the BNSF Transcon. The next morning we'd go west to Belen and Albuquerque.

Starting over a river bridge.

Caritas' crew is Donna and Steve DeGroot, who live in northern Wisconsin.

Nona Hill, Clark Johnson's wife, tries to cheer up Mike Rose (Toledo, OH), who for some reason seems unhappy. Really, he wasn't.

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