DRGW Cumbres turns were often accompanied by a fair number of photographers and just curious tourists, and for the crews it was almost like a public performance. The brakeman smiles for my camera as a family watches one of the engines, while two more photographers do their thing on the right. Retired Alamosa railroader Woody Woodward wrote me, "The brakeman by the switchstand is George Andriko. He was probably the conductor on that trip. He was around so long I think he gave Casey Jones his student trips. When I was in the 1st grade his wife was the Principal of the school and George was the 'old head' when I started on the RR at Alamosa in 1967. He started as a newspaper boy on the trains when he was about 15. His trainman date was around 1917 if I recall correctly." Jimmy Blouch, another retired Rio Grande employee followed up with, "Conductor seniority roster for July 1, 1966 shows: 1. Andriko, G. J. Date entered: 10-12-16 Date promoted: 12-22-22". So we're looking at a trainman with 48 years of experience under his hat. Information like that brings an image to life. Thanks Woody and Jimmy.
The DRGW narrow gauge was the last major steam operation in the U.S. The climb over 10,000 foot Cumbres pass was spectacular, with two engines handling 70 car trains. Hopefully these images convey some of the drama of mountain steam railroading.