Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad purchases 5 EBT hoppers


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Hoppers in Chama, NM.
Photos used with permission of Jay Wimer

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Left: Location of hopper 1044.
Center: Locations of hopper 1054 and an unknown hopper.
Right: Location of hopper 888.

For those of you who have not kept up with news surrounding the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad based in Chama, NM, the bi-state commission which administrates the railroad for the states of Colorado and New Mexico, voted to terminate its contract with Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad Corporation for breach of contract on October 19, 1999. CTSRRC, was the third for-profit company to operate trains on the line since it opened as a tourist road in 1970, after the section of the Denver and Rio Grande Western's San Juan Extension was purchased by the two states.

As suits and counter suits were filed, the commission proceeded with bidding out the operation to a new operator. The end result was the rejection of all bidders as not being adequate to operate the railroad. During the bidding process the Friends of the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic raised over $30,000 to fund much needed winter locomotive work so the railroad could operate the following spring. At the unsuccessful conclusion of the bidding process, the commission solicited a bid from the Friends of the C&TS to operate the railroad. After an evaluation of the prospect, the FCTS board voted on February 12, 2000 to accept the request and formed the Rio Grande Railway Preservation Corporation, an affiliated non-profit corporation for the operation of the railroad. After refinements in the bid, it was accepted March 2. After considerable track, locomotive and rolling stock rehabilitation, RGRPC was able to open the railroad May 27 with capacity trains.

As part of their track rehabilitation program, the CTS needed ballast spreading cars that were superior to their converted standard gauge hoppers. RGRPC negotiated in May to purchase five EBT hopper cars from the Mount Union yard for rehabilitation and use in ballast service. In 1968 the White Pass and Yukon and in 1982 the Durango and Silverton also purchased EBT cars for the same purpose, as have other lines.

Since I did not have an opportunity to inspect the cars before or during their departure, I have to rely on my field notes for data on them. I checked the car locations against my map of all the unused cars in the Mount Union yard during my visit to the railroad on June 2-4 and determined with certainty which cars were removed.

First, a note of explanation. In order to keep track of the unused EBT cars I have used a system of numbering groups of cars in certain geographical locations, since many numbers can no longer be read. I have included the old group and car number of each car based on its storage location in Mount Union and a new group and car number based on the car's new location (the C&TS).

1054 Group 3 Car 6 - now Group 62 Car 1
The car number is likely but not verifiably correct. Built 1926 by the EBT shops as a 3 bay slope bottomed car. This car was assigned to ganister service during 1943. My field notes on this car reflect the number 1084, which is clearly wrong since the numbering stopped at 1074. No hoppers appear to be 1054 or 1034 which are the most likely numbers for the car. The CTS reports the car appears to be 1054 now that it is out of 'the woods'.

??? Group 4 Car 13 - now Group 62 Car 2
The car number is unreadable.

888 Group 4 Car 25 - now Group 62 Car 3
The car number is likely but not verifiably correct. Built 1915 by the EBT shops as a 3 bay flat bottomed car. Converted to sloped bays. This car was assigned to coal service during 1943.

1044 Group 6 Car 13 - now Group 62 Car 4
The car number is verifiably correct. Built 1919 by the EBT shops as a 3 bay slope bottomed car. This car was assigned to coal service during 1943.

978 Group 6 Car 19 - now Group 62 Car 5
The car number is verifiably correct. Built 1917 by the EBT shops as a 3 bay flat bottomed car. Converted to sloped bays. This car was assigned to coal service during 1943.

The cars were removed with the use of a 100+ ton crane. The trees immediately around the car were cut into manageable sections which were deposited where the car was once it was removed. Apparently the cars were lifted from four points at the ends of either car bolster. The car was lifted up and over any blocking cars and set on a road step trailer. The trucks were then lifted out and set on the trailer ahead and behind the car. Any trees or branches in the way of the air lift were simply knocked out of the way as the car was removed. The move occurred about the weekend of May 20th and the cars were arriving in Chama by the following Tuesday. The accompanying photos show the cars after their unloading in Chama, NM, and the spots from which the cars were removed.

Special thanks to John West and Don Richter for the information on the hoppers, to Roger Hogan of the Hotel & Shops in Chama for the hopper photos, and to the FCTS and RGRPC for saving some more of our narrow gauge history. The mentioned Mount Union Car Map is available on the Internet at . I encourage anyone who has additional information on car numbers in Mount Union to contact me at

Map of cars in Mount Union
Cumbres and Toltec Webpage
Friends of the Cumbres and Toltec Webpage


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Far Left: Hoppers "04" and "05" (#883 and #1054) in the Chama yard near the oil loading platform.
Left: Hopper "01" being rebuilt in front of the Chama locomotive shop.
Right: 04 and 05 again. Post-EBT someone erroneously painted 888 on what appears to be #883
Far Right: Hoppers "02" and "03" on the track just down from 01.

Progress continues to be made at the CTS towards the operation of the EBT hoppers. Musings from CTS and RGRRPS officials online indicate an aura of dissatifaction over the condition of the cars as they arrived. It seems that they were unaware of the deterioration caused by Pennsylvania winters, compared with Colorado's relatively dry climate.

At a visit to the CTS in late August of 2000 I had an opportunity to inspect one of the cars being rebuilt. The hopper slope sheets and the upper third of the side sheets are the only sheet metal on the body being retained. The lower 2/3rds of the side sheets, the side ribs, the side and end sills at the corners and the corner posts are all being replaced. As where the new lower side sheets are being overlapped to the existing sheet, the new side ribs have been shimmed out from the existing sheet by the thickness of the new sheet so that they mate flatly to both. As a result they stick out about 1/2" further than the bottom or top sills. With the corner work, the poling pockets have been removed and will likely not be reinstalled. The Wine door latches were removed and the bolts cut off so they could be freed up and reassembled in operating condition.

Current reports from the CTS indicate they expect to have two hoppers in operation by the beginning of the season. Additional cars will receive work as time allows, but it is unclear if all five will eventually see operation. The two planned for service this year will join two short standard gauge hoppers on D&RGW trucks that have previously been used as ballast cars. A third SG car is on site without trucks.

Unfortunately I will not be able to visit the CTS this year to check up on the EBT's traveling sons, but I hope to visit again in the coming years to check up on them.

PS: According to sources at the CTS, the hoppers were purchased by the C&TSRR Commission, the goverment entity that oversees the railroad. The Andrews trucks off the DRGW flats were purchased by the Friends. According to the source, if he remembers correctly, the Friends purchased two or three sets of Andrews trucks. So far as he knew, the archbar trucks were not involved in any of their dealings, however, photos show there was only one loose set of Andrews trucks and two sets of EBT archbars in the Rockhill yard that are all now gone.


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Hoppers in Chama, NM. Courtesy Jay Wimer. Taken in late August 2001
Far Left: Hopper 01 has new lettering (after John B. West, Vice President of the RGRPS and instigator of the hopper purchase).
Left: Three-quarters view of 01 on the opposite side.
Right: Overall side view of 01.
Far Right: Closeup of 01's three quarters to full size MCB coupler adapter.
Photos used with permission of Jay Wimer

According to sources at the C&TS all five hoppers were in operable condition as of November 2001. It is expected that there will be five car ballast trains in use on the line in 2002 as part of FRA mandated ballasting and resurfacing projects.

2888 (prety sure)
3978 (defininte)
4883 (probable)
51054 (definite)

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