Carbon Junction, CO to Chama, NM

I do not have any information on this abandoned route. If you know anything about this route, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Thank you!

Carbon Junction was the split point at which the narrow gauge lines went east to Chama, NM and south to Farmington, NM. Portions of the old grade to Chama can be seen on the hills north of US160 between Durango and Bayfield, CO. The book "Tracking Ghost Rails in Colorado" by Robert Ormes (1975) provides excellent descriptions and maps of these and the abandoned narrow gauge spurs around Lumberton, Dulce, and south of Chama, NM. At Pagosa Junction, CO (also called Gato), the narrow gauge was extended north and east to Pagosa Springs, CO to serve the logging industry. There are still some old narrow gauge rail cars and a water tower at Pagosa Junction and lots of evidence of the grades. When the Navajo Dam on the San Juan River was completed around 1960, the eventual limits of the reservoir would inundate a portion of the narrow gauge line east of Arboles, CO so the line was re-routed and a large steel bridge had to be constructed over the Piedra River which dumps into Navajo Lake; [the bridge is still intact and provides a portion of a hiking/biking trail around the lake]. The line was abandoned only a few years later (around 1968)between Carbon Junction, CO and Chama, NM. South of Chama and Dulce, NM (the headquarters of the Jicarilla Apache)existed an elaborate network of spurs built to serve the loggers and coal was mined around Monero, NM to serve the locomotives. From Chama, NM to Antonito, CO runs the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railway (jointly owned & operated by the States of New Mexico & Colorado) which have preserved about 50 miles of the old narrow gauge system as a tourist attraction and historical site.

Dr. James H. Olsen, Jr., PE
Albuquerque, NM
8/6/2010

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Sadly, the water tower at Pagosa Junction (Gato) collapsed into a pile of rubble several years ago, but the rubble is still there. The tracks are still in place along with two old gondolas. The old Gomez store at Gato was moved intact to the Fred Harmon Museum in Pagosa Springs. Apparently, when the Rio Grande pulled up the tracks, they thought the large bridges were too much trouble to remove. So, there is a truss bridge (with rails) over Cat Creek at Gato. In addition, there is a long triple span truss and girder bridge a few miles east of Gato over the San Juan River. It is easily visible from CR 500, although difficult to get to. There are also several truss bridges on the dirt county road between Juanita and Dulce, which follows the old grade. The bridge a few miles north of Dulce is right next to the road and easily accessible, as is a water tank. There is a neat D&RGW herald on the end of the bridge. Finally, the old railroad station in Pagosa Springs still exists, although much modified as a house. It is at 7th Street and Durango Street.

John Porco
Pagosa Springs , CO
5/7/2012

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I have been doing some research into the route Aldo Leopold took in April of 1913 as recorded in his diary. He traveled by train from Tres Piedras to Rosa. He must have taken this train route, yet none of the maps of old train routes show the tracks going to Rosa.

jerry Burton
Albuquerque, NM
12/31/2014

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Is there any history about the village, Juanita, CO. Grandpa Eulogio Martinez had a homestead where two rivers converged. San Juan & Navaho? I am retired military and living in SC.

Sam Martinez
Born in Dyke, CO, SC
11/2/2015

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If Rosa, NM is the locale to which Aldo Leopold referred, the town never was on the rail route. Rosa, NM (just south of the Colorado border) is now under about 400 feet of water due to inundation with the construction of the Navajo Reservoir in the late 1950's. The narrow gauge line was relocated around the north end of the lake to Arboles, CO near where the Piedra River dumps into Navajo Lake. The river crossing/bridge that was built in the 1960's (just before the line was abandoned) is now a bike path.

Dr. James H. Olsen, Jr.
Albuquerque, NM
2/19/2016

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