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San Luis and Rio Grande Railroad

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

San Luis and Rio Grande Railroad
Alamosa SLRG Logo 2012-10-22.jpg
HeadquartersAlamosa, Colorado
Reporting markSLRG
Dates of operation2003–Present
PredecessorDenver & Rio Grande Western, Southern Pacific, Union Pacific
Track gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Length154 miles (248 kilometres)

The San Luis and Rio Grande Railroad (reporting mark SLRG) is a class III railroad operating in south-central Colorado. It runs on 154 miles of former Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad tracks on three lines radiating from Alamosa and interchanges with the Union Pacific Railroad in Walsenburg. Much of the railroad is located in the San Luis Valley.


The oldest predecessor of today's SLRG was the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, which was chartered in 1870. The line over La Veta Pass to Alamosa and Antonito was originally envisioned as part of an ambitious and never-realized narrow gauge line linking Denver with Mexico City. The narrow gauge tracks crossed the pass in 1877 and reached Alamosa on July 6, 1878. The railroad was pushed on to Antonito by 1880 and ultimately to Santa Fe and Silverton. The D&RG built west from Alamosa, completing the line to South Fork and its terminus at Creede in 1881.

By the late 1880s, the inherent isolation of narrow gauge railroads from the national network began to put them at a competitive disadvantage. The D&RG converted the La Veta Pass and the Creede lines to standard gauge around 1900. The line to Antonito was also converted to standard gauge, but a third rail, laid to three-foot gauge, remained to Alamosa until the end of regular narrow gauge operation in 1968. Coincident with the conversion to standard gauge, the D&RG realigned the route over La Veta Pass to lower the summit, straighten curves, and reduce grades.

In 1908, the D&RG was consolidated with the Rio Grande Western to form the Denver and Rio Grande Western. In 1988, the DRGW merged with the Southern Pacific Railroad; the Union Pacific Railroad purchased and merged the SP in 1996. In June 2003, the UP sold the Walsenburg - Alamosa line and its other lines in the San Luis Valley to shortline railroad conglomerate RailAmerica. The Derrick - Creede line, which had been out of service, was sold to the Denver and Rio Grande Historical Foundation as a tourist line. RailAmerica sold the SLRG to Iowa Pacific Holdings in December 2005.[1]


Iowa Pacific Holdings and its subsidiaries had severe financial trouble and held large debts. In 2019 and 2020, many of IPH's subsidiaries were placed into receivership. The San Luis & Rio Grande Railroad was forced into Chapter 11 bankruptcy and was appointed a trustee by a U.S. bankruptcy court in Denver.[2] Between 2020 and 2021, the trustee maintained freight operations and spent $1.3 million rehabilitating parts of the line and another $250,000 cleaning up the railyard in Alamosa.[3] As of late 2021, the railroad is still operated by the trustee and its various rolling stock is for sale.[4][5]



The railroad operates on 154 miles of track.

Heritage railroad

SLRG excursion train pulled by Ex-LS&I 18, climbing out of La Veta, Colorado, 2008.
SLRG excursion train pulled by Ex-LS&I 18, climbing out of La Veta, Colorado, 2008.

A subsidiary heritage railroad, the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad, operated passenger excursion trains between Alamosa and La Veta during the summer months from 2006 to 2019. They also offered trips from Alamosa to Antonito, where passengers could connect with the narrow gauge Cumbres and Toltec.[6]

These lines were freight only for decades under the previous railroad owners, making it popular with railroad enthusiasts who log rare mileage. The route over Veta Pass offered historic views inaccessible by road, and outdoor events were held at the Fir Concert Grounds near highest point on the railroad.[7]

Between 2007 and 2013, the fan trips would often be pulled by a steam locomotive. First, there was Ex-Southern Pacific 2-6-0 “Mogul” type No. 1744, but it was taken out of service quickly due to firebox issues. The only other steam locomotive that operated on the SLRG was Ex-Lake Superior and Ishpeming 2-8-0 “consolidation” type No. 18.

SLRG discontinued the passenger excursions in 2019 following a wildfire that damaged the Fir Concert Grounds, and then later when the railroad entered bankruptcy and began liquidating unnecessary assets.[8] This liquidation involved the sale of locomotives and rolling stock to the Colebrookdale Railroad and the Reading Blue Mountain and Northern Railroad in Pennsylvania.[9][10]



  1. ^ "San Luis & Rio Grande Railroad". Retrieved 17 January 2022.
  2. ^ "Former Iowa Pacific Equipment Put Up For Sale". Railfan & Railroad Magazine. 2021-03-04. Retrieved 2021-06-13.
  3. ^ "San Luis & Rio Grande Railroad prepares to come out of bankruptcy". 31 August 2021. Retrieved 26 January 2022.
  4. ^ "Iowa Pacific Railroad equipment in late 2021". Retrieved 17 January 2022.
  5. ^ "San Luis and Rio Grande Railroad may go to auction". Retrieved 17 January 2022.
  6. ^ "Rio Grande Scenic Railroad website". Retrieved 7 April 2019.[dead link]
  7. ^ "Historic & Scenic Colorado Trains |". 4. Rio Grande Scenic Railroad. Archived from the original on 4 October 2017. Retrieved 18 March 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: location (link)
  8. ^ "Bankruptcy Court Judge Authorizes Chapter 11 Trustee for San Luis & Rio Grande Railroad, Inc. To Auction 100% of Membership Interest in Its Wholly-Owned Subsidiary Massachusetts Coastal Railroad, LLC". 18 May 2020.
  9. ^ "Colebrookdale Railroad acquires a second steam locomotive". Trains. Kalmbach Media. March 29, 2021. Archived from the original on March 29, 2021. Retrieved July 23, 2021.
  10. ^ Cupper, Dan (July 23, 2021). "Reading & Northern acquires 11 ex-San Luis & Rio Grande cars". Trains. Kalmbach Media. Archived from the original on July 23, 2021. Retrieved July 23, 2021.

External links

This page was last edited on 28 January 2022, at 21:31
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