The Rio Grande Scenic Railroad tracks at the Fir siding on La Veta Pass. In the distance is Mt. Blanca, a fourteener, in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
The Rio Grande Scenic Railroad ran on the standard gauge tracks of the former Denver & Rio Grande Railroad from Alamosa to La Veta in Southern Colorado. Unfortunately it had a short life span. The D & RG terminated passenger service on its line in 1953, so it was with a great deal of joy that the first passenger train on the newly resurrected San Luis and Rio Grande Railroad arrived in La Veta from Alamosa on February 9, 2006. Hundreds of people turned out to see the arrival of one diesel engine pulling one passenger car on this test run. Regular tourist passenger service then began in the summer of 2006, and continued into the summer of 2018 as the renamed "Rio Grande Scenic Railroad." The Spring Creek fire of July 2018 burned across La Veta Pass, destroying several railroad structures , forcing the railroad out of business. No one knows when or if it will return.
The Rio Grande Scenic Railroad loaded passengers in La Veta, CO on July 11, 2011 for the return trip to Alamosa after a lunch stop in La Veta.
The Denver & Rio Grande Railroad completed its original narrow gauge line over Veta Pass in 1876, connecting La Veta with Alamosa. The line would then go south to Antonito where the Chili Line would connect to Santa Fe. The D & RG built a new standard gauge line over La Veta Pass (three miles south of Veta Pass) in 1899, and the old narrow gauge line from the past was abandoned. Automobiles today may drive the old narrow gauge roadbed on what has been named the "Old La Veta Pass" road.
Ory Thomas (O.T.) Davis was a photographer who lived in La Veta, Walsenburg, and Alamosa, Colorado. He photographed mines, railroads, ranches, and scenery from Walsenburg to Wolf Creek Pass from 1888 until his death in 1945. In 1899 he captured on film the construction of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad's standard gauge line over La Veta Pass as seen in the photograph below from the collection of the Monte Vista Historical Society.
Construction of the upper tunnel and bridge over Devil's Gulch on the D & RG's standard gauge line over La Veta Pass in 1899.
Many more of O.T. Davis' photographs of Southern Colorado and a description of his colorful life can be found in Mike Butler's book Southern Colorado: O.T. Davis Collection https://www.amazon.com/Southern-Colorado-T-Collection-America/dp/1467131733/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Southern+Colorado%3A+O.T.+Davis+Collection&qid=1612829176&s=books&sr=1-1