The Chama Turn – All Aboard Series – PBS

The Chama Turn – All Aboard Series

Green Frog Productions

Format: DVD 

Length: 30 minutes

Locations: Alamosa, Chama, Antonito, Cumbres

Time Period: 1960’s

Source: Emery Gulash

Another one of the PBS Green Frog Productions from the All Aboard television series. Host Howard Goodwin introduces the show. Howard promises us, double-headed steam with  helpers, and yard operations. Hope that he’s right…

This is narrow gauge steam-powered railroading. The vintage equipment, combined with some amazing scenery make for a classic setting. The teaser at the head of the program goes great with the banjo soundtrack.

We are on the Denver & Rio Grande Western narrow gauge line. The Chama Turn, was also known as the Cumbres Pass Run. Chama and Alamosa had ruling grades of  2 1/2% and 4 %. The train goes from Alamosa to Chama. Triple track mainline has standard gauge to Antonito. This is a 3 foot gauge railroad.

At Antonito, the locomotives are serviced, before the climb to Cumbres Pass. D&RGW K36 and a K37 Mikado are viewed on parallel tracks. Nice explanation of K classes.

Longshots are used effectively , as the double-headed freight snakes its way upward. The K37 is left to get down the mountain single-handed.

Chama begins with the locos serviced. Here we encounter the wooden water tank and coaling tower. The small yard is switched by the road power. Yard operations and double-headed steam…. Howard was right! This facility was part of the preserved narrow gauge lines.

The train works hard up that 4% grade en route to Cumbres. Serviced and ready to resume its trip. Those old wooden boxcars , wooden cabooses and Gramps tankers are a railfan’s dream!

At Windy Point, the Rio Grande train clings to the mountain ledge. The scenery is spectacular!

This is an excellent summary of Rio Grande narrow gauge operations here. The narration contains historical information, that is necessary, to tell the story. The 16mm film and Emery Gulash’s skill with his cameras are amazing!

The Chama Turn has enough explanation for newcomers. The abbreviated runtime may benefit the less serious viewer. The program itself will satisfy everyone. Probably a good one for children too. Green Frog has done a great job with this show. I might need the full length version… I want more!

Rating 4 1/2 Stars

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