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Burns651

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...VIA runs to Windsor on CN tracks to Walkerville - a couple of miles northeast of CP's tunnel to Detroit. Tracks past the station are partly abandoned or pulled up and replaced with parkland along the Detroit River. (The ROW can be seen on Google Maps.) Even if this route was rehabilitated, a large loop or turning track would be required to reach CP's tunnel slope - about 3 blocks from the river in a residential area.
- CN passenger trains did share this tunnel with CP and NY Central (CSO) before VIA, however they exited before the present Windsor station on connecting tracks to a joint yard complex in central Windsor, then on CP through the tunnel. These tracks are now mostly overgrown and used to store parts cars for the nearby Ford plant.
- The Amtrak Niagara Rainbow used the southerly Canso subdivision before joining CP for a stop at their station just prior to the tunnel on the Canadian side...
You seem to imply that there was a connection to the tunnel west of Walkerville. Those tracks never went past Goyeau Street downtown. The only connections west of Walkerville to anyplace else were the ferries.

CN passenger trains never used the tunnel. They terminated at Goyeau St. until 1961, then at Walkerville until VIA started. Cross-river CN passenger trains only went on the ferry to the GTW slip, and they quit doing that in 1955.

The Niagara Rainbow used the PC/CR CASO all the way to the border. It did not operate on CP tracks anywhere, except possibly joint trackage through Welland. The Windsor station had always been owned by CR and its predecessors until the sale of the CASO to CP/CN in 1985. CP's Windsor passenger trains had relocated to a remodeled CP yard office in 1968, with the last run on July 3, 1971.

Part of the CN line that its road freights use to get into Windsor, less than 3 miles long from Jefferson Blvd. to Pillette Rd., could be upgraded to take a passenger train from the CP up to the VIA line. A simple bus-shelter type station could be built at the site of the old MC Windsor depot to get service started. Or, the Essex Terminal could be upgraded, also less than 3 miles long. Or a passenger train could stay on the CP all the way to Chatham or beyond. These are entirely feasible projects. But I'm not holding my breath.
 

jiml

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You seem to imply that there was a connection to the tunnel west of Walkerville. Those tracks never went past Goyeau Street downtown. The only connections west of Walkerville to anyplace else were the ferries.
I implied no such thing, merely stating the fact that the tracks extended past the current station as can be confirmed on Google Maps. One track is still visible. I also clearly stated why reclaiming that ROW wouldn't work given the descent to the tunnel starts at least 3 blocks from the river surrounded by housing.


CN passenger trains never used the tunnel. They terminated at Goyeau St. until 1961, then at Walkerville until VIA started. Cross-river CN passenger trains only went on the ferry to the GTW slip, and they quit doing that in 1955.
According to the 1952 Official Guide, 8 different CN trains made the trek to Detroit. My understanding, from a retired CN employee, was that many of them used the line through the Ford plant before crossing CP at McDougall St. just past Van De Water yard to join the Canso/Caso/CSO line, passing NYC's Windsor station before proceeding through the tunnel.

I incorrectly called the Essex Terminal the line through the Ford plant (which it is), but believed its primary function was now storage. I think you'd agree it would need considerable upgrading to accommodate passenger trains, which factors into the the earlier point that no one is going to pay for this.

Describing the route of the Niagara Rainbow as using CP was an over-simplification in the interest of brevity. Others have referred to the "CP" station previously in this and other threads, so that seemed the best way to describe the route (as it exists today).
 

Willbridge

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Actually, the SFZ was on the chopping block as part of the Carter cuts, but the ongoing oil crisis at the time saved that route and a few others, including the Inter-American (today the Texas Eagle, albeit truncated), Southwest Limited (today the Southwest Chief), and the Pioneer (discontinued 1997).
The DOT fumbled around with numerous alternatives that were influenced by the SFZ being on the Overland Route rather than the unavailable Moffat line. Here's what they presented at one point. It's a reminder that in North America eternal vigilance is the price of rail passenger service.

1978 05 RTN DOT plan 002.jpg
 

Burns651

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I implied no such thing, merely stating the fact that the tracks extended past the current station as can be confirmed on Google Maps. One track is still visible. I also clearly stated why reclaiming that ROW wouldn't work given the descent to the tunnel starts at least 3 blocks from the river surrounded by housing.


According to the 1952 Official Guide, 8 different CN trains made the trek to Detroit. My understanding, from a retired CN employee, was that many of them used the line through the Ford plant before crossing CP at McDougall St. just past Van De Water yard to join the Canso/Caso/CSO line, passing NYC's Windsor station before proceeding through the tunnel.

I incorrectly called the Essex Terminal the line through the Ford plant (which it is), but believed its primary function was now storage. I think you'd agree it would need considerable upgrading to accommodate passenger trains, which factors into the the earlier point that no one is going to pay for this.

Describing the route of the Niagara Rainbow as using CP was an over-simplification in the interest of brevity. Others have referred to the "CP" station previously in this and other threads, so that seemed the best way to describe the route (as it exists today).
Sorry that I mis-inferred about your riverfront ROW comments.

According to the May 1945 Official Guide, 4 CN trains went to Windsor and they all continued to Detroit: 183 (Sun. only), 105/The La Salle daily, 83 daily except Sunday, 117/Inter-City Limited daily, and 9, daily.

CN passenger trains never used the tunnel, regardless of what that employee told you. This has been documented in books and newspaper articles, as with the Windsor Star of 8/13/1955: "the passenger ferry service of the Canadian National Railways ceases September 25. Passengers, baggage, mail and express then will be transported by bus through the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel." CN passenger cars had been carried on the ferry to the GTW Detroit slip, which was adjacent to the GTW passenger depot. CN never used the tunnel until early 1975, when its ferries stopped running and it secured trackage rights over PC to use the tunnel for freight transfer runs.

The Essex Terminal passes by the Ford Windsor Engine Plant, and the CN connector between VIA and CP goes by the Ford Essex Engine Plant.
 

jiml

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Sorry that I mis-inferred about your riverfront ROW comments.

According to the May 1945 Official Guide, 4 CN trains went to Windsor and they all continued to Detroit: 183 (Sun. only), 105/The La Salle daily, 83 daily except Sunday, 117/Inter-City Limited daily, and 9, daily.

CN passenger trains never used the tunnel, regardless of what that employee told you. This has been documented in books and newspaper articles, as with the Windsor Star of 8/13/1955: "the passenger ferry service of the Canadian National Railways ceases September 25. Passengers, baggage, mail and express then will be transported by bus through the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel." CN passenger cars had been carried on the ferry to the GTW Detroit slip, which was adjacent to the GTW passenger depot. CN never used the tunnel until early 1975, when its ferries stopped running and it secured trackage rights over PC to use the tunnel for freight transfer runs.

The Essex Terminal passes by the Ford Windsor Engine Plant, and the CN connector between VIA and CP goes by the Ford Essex Engine Plant.
I am happy to be corrected regarding the ferry. Small studies of historically significant rail "oddities" is definitely a thing for me. As I said earlier in this thread, there is a whole complex story to tell about this one river crossing. Unfortunately little of it is still relevant to Amtrak establishing service between Detroit and Toronto, leaving a lot of detail on the "cutting room floor". In an ideal world, one of VIA's nice new Siemens trainsets with cabs at either ends would simply reverse at their Windsor station and proceed via the connector to the tunnel and Detroit. However it remains to be seen if VIA has any interest in participating. They've had a few opportunities over the years to coordinate connections with Amtrak at Detroit, including for a few years a train nicknamed the "GM Express" which ran from GM's Canadian head office in Oshawa, ON, to Windsor. Also, timetables used to show practical Amtrak connections and tips for doing so, as physical shuttles disappeared. The erosion of all these things - in stages - would seem to suggest VIA no longer considers this an important market. I think it has been established that while VIA's participation in a future Amtrak train would be helpful, it is not essential.

One subject that has not really been discussed is whether Amtrak service is predicated on the rehab of MCT and the move of other services there. That obstacle may be harder to overcome than anything on the Canadian side.
 

IndyLions

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In an ideal world, one of VIA's nice new Siemens trainsets with cabs at either ends would simply reverse at their Windsor station and proceed via the connector to the tunnel and Detroit. However it remains to be seen if VIA has any interest in participating....
I agree this is the best-case scenario. Michigan DOT also has some similar fancy new Siemens train sets on the way, as does Amtrak.

One subject that has not really been discussed is whether Amtrak service is predicated on the rehab of MCT and the move of other services there. That obstacle may be harder to overcome than anything on the Canadian side.
This can’t be underestimated, but there is some light at the end of the (Detroit River) tunnel. Ford has stated publicly they are willing, and there is definitely the potential for a grass roots effort led by a local Detroit columnist who has covered the MCT renovation. And if somehow Biden can grease the skids for US Customs participation at MCT - it could actually happen.
 

jis

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This can’t be underestimated, but there is some light at the end of the (Detroit River) tunnel. Ford has stated publicly they are willing, and there is definitely the potential for a grass roots effort led by a local Detroit columnist who has covered the MCT renovation. And if somehow Biden can grease the skids for US Customs participation at MCT - it could actually happen.
Someone needs to grease the corresponding Canadian skids to have them do Canadian C&I, ideally at MCT also, and someone has to fund the construction of the C&I facility. Montreal is apparently still struggling with theirs. At least this won't need any new legislative action at the federal level. Everything needed as far as treaties go, is already in place.
 
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Would love it if all Amtrak Detroit trains returned to the MCT. Let RTA run commuter service between there, or Ann Arbor to Pontiac...
 
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Burns651

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I am happy to be corrected regarding the ferry. Small studies of historically significant rail "oddities" is definitely a thing for me. As I said earlier in this thread, there is a whole complex story to tell about this one river crossing. Unfortunately little of it is still relevant to Amtrak establishing service between Detroit and Toronto, leaving a lot of detail on the "cutting room floor". In an ideal world, one of VIA's nice new Siemens trainsets with cabs at either ends would simply reverse at their Windsor station and proceed via the connector to the tunnel and Detroit. However it remains to be seen if VIA has any interest in participating. They've had a few opportunities over the years to coordinate connections with Amtrak at Detroit, including for a few years a train nicknamed the "GM Express" which ran from GM's Canadian head office in Oshawa, ON, to Windsor. Also, timetables used to show practical Amtrak connections and tips for doing so, as physical shuttles disappeared. The erosion of all these things - in stages - would seem to suggest VIA no longer considers this an important market. I think it has been established that while VIA's participation in a future Amtrak train would be helpful, it is not essential.

One subject that has not really been discussed is whether Amtrak service is predicated on the rehab of MCT and the move of other services there. That obstacle may be harder to overcome than anything on the Canadian side.
Sorry if I came across as nitpicky. One of the drawbacks of communicating by message board, which would go more smoothly in person.

I'm just frustrated by the inherent ridiculousness of the rail transportation between two countries being so dead-ended with not even a one-seat bus transfer at the Michigan border; countries that have been friendly for over 200 years. I'm also frustrated how MDOT gave up on the International in 2004 at Port Huron, because it takes an act of God to get service restored once it's been taken away. Especially when you're dealing with CN. The Blue Water is nice, but it should have only been introduced if we could have also kept the International, whether at Port Huron or moving it to Detroit-Windsor.

I suppose we should be just grateful if VIA even ends up restoring the other Windsor trains cut with Covid.

I did notice in Amtrak's "Connects US" pdf of May 27 that for the first time it specifically mentioned the MC Depot for an extended Wolverine train. Not insignificant. Amtrak is always happy to move to a new facility where someone else pays for it! It would be the icing on the cake for the renovation and be so exciting.Screenshot_20210601-173352~2.png
 
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jiml

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Sorry if I came across as nitpicky. One of the drawbacks of communicating by message board, which would go more smoothly in person.

I'm just frustrated by the inherent ridiculousness of the rail transportation between two countries being so dead-ended with not even a one-seat bus transfer at the Michigan border; countries that have been friendly for over 200 years. I'm also frustrated how MDOT gave up on the International in 2004 at Port Huron, because it takes an act of God to get service restored once it's been taken away. Especially when you're dealing with CN. The Blue Water is nice, but it should have only been introduced if we could have kept the International, whether at Port Huron or moving it to Detroit-Windsor.

I suppose we should be just grateful if VIA even ends up restoring the other Windsor trains cut with Covid.
No worries at all. Even at an advancing age, I still consider myself to be a student - particularly when it involves railroad operations.

The history and demise of the International is a fascinating topic for another day. MDOT was only one "nail in its coffin".
 

IndyLions

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Yeah - I may be uninformed, but I think of the International as one (of many) cases where we let the terrorists win by allowing them to take away some of our freedom of movement.

We are less free than we were on 9/11, which means we lost that battle. No excuse for that.
 

west point

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Right now Canada is still struggling with C-19. Their vaccination rate is very low. Until that gets resolved the Canadian government does not have time to even look at cross border service. Some expect that cross border will not restart until 2022. Really hope that is incorrect ?
 

IndyLions

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Right now Canada is still struggling with C-19. Their vaccination rate is very low. Until that gets resolved the Canadian government does not have time to even look at cross border service. Some expect that cross border will not restart until 2022. Really hope that is incorrect ?
As it relates to this discussion about proposed new Amtrak services, these are all wish list items for the next 15 years.

In the case of Detroit to Toronto - the Michigan Central Terminal building will not even be open until late 2022. New train service would be well after that.

Now - as far as the border opening up back up in general, I am anxious like you are for that to happen. Nothing like being told you can’t go somewhere to make you want to go there. There are plenty of trains in Canada I would love to ride.
 
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Nothing like being told you can’t go somewhere to make you want to go there.
Not necessarily. For me, being told I am not welcome somewhere, makes me not want to go there. International travel restrictions are turning into a boom for domestic tourist attractions. Since I was not able to go on an ocean cruise this summer, I booked instead a Columbia/Snake River cruise. I am sure that the National Parks will enjoy a lot of attention, as will Amtrak and motor trips. So will RVing...
Of course, when international travel restrictions are lifted, I will gladly go where I am welcome...
 
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Let me be clearer. There is an obvious gap on the map between Pueblo and La Junta.
Definitely a visual gap in the network that sticks out, and it might be workable. But a key question is if there would be enough demand to justify adding that connecting leg to the Front Range corridor.

Based on the Southwest Chief schedule, the potential Front Range trains to/from La Junta that would connect with the West (for example Denver with Los Angeles) would run in the middle of the night. Not many local corridor passengers in the middle of the night to serve, so that's kind of a non-starter to run a mostly empty overnight corridor train to serve connections.

A connection to/from the East is much more workable. Here's a rough potential schedule for 3x/day on the Front Range (including 1x Cheyenne) with one trip down to La Junta to connect with the Southwest Chief, The connection to/from Kansas City is shown as well.

Southbound

CHD605
FCC71012351630
DEN84014051800
DEN91014251820
COS104516001955
PUB114517002055
LAJ1830
LAJ (swc)1929
KCY (swc)653

Northbound

KCY (swc)2242
LAJ (swc)749
LAJ900
PUB60510301600
COS70511301700
DEN84013051835
DEN91513251855
FCC104514552025
CHD2135

These trip times are roughly in line with what Connect US aims for and they seem to not only offer a good hookup to/from the SW Chief but also useful times up and down the Front Range. So it's definitely possible that a reasonable Front Range schedule could also offer connections at La Junta to points east. (Like any speculative schedule, this is subject to hurdles like the cooperation of the host railroads, logistics of crews and maintenance rotations, etc. but for this discussion let's assume those are workable.)

Note that this schedule would also connect to the California Zephyr in Denver as well, but only to/from the East. It could be adjusted to connect to/from the West available by making the early-morning departures out of Pueblo and Cheyenne be at about 5am. The evening departures out of Denver would probably need to be pushed an hour or so later to have a good shot at routinely allowing connections coming from the west, too. And there lies a core conflict when it comes to all these new corridor train proposals. They are primarily to serve local traffic between the key points on the corridor. How much do you design them to connect to the LD network, knowing there's risk of harming the local demand? Pushing those morning inbounds an hour or so earlier (roughly 5am instead of 6am out of Pueblo and Cheyenne, 6am instead of 7am out of Colorado Springs and Fort Collins) will probably cost at least a little traffic. Is that acceptable? What if it needs to be adjusted another half our earlier to 430 and 530? I love connectivity as much as anybody, but the corridors will probably live and die by how successfully they build traffic within the corridor itself, and if ridership is stunted by schedules contorted to allow good LD connections it risks the route failing.

Back to the topic of extending a train down to La Junta to connect to points east on the Southwest Chief. It 's workable, but is it likely to draw enough ridership to make it worthwhile? Who would ride that extra leg? There would be some local traffic served between La Junta itself and Denver/Colorado Springs/Pueblo but La Junta is a pretty small place -- in 2019 it boarded just under 5 passengers per departure on the SWC. This added leg would mostly be there for connections. But connections to where? Kansas City is the only significant market it would open up because the rest of the stretch between La Junta and Galesburg (where it overlaps the California Zephyr) is dotted with points which board a handful of passengers per departure. So the bulk of passengers on this new La Junta leg are probably going to be to/from Kansas City.

Kansas City-Denver is a sizable market though it's hard to estimate how large ridership would be for a direct KCY-DEN train -- potentially a lot, especially a daytime train where coach is a decent option. The concern I have about how many passengers Kansas City -Denver would attract via the La Junta extension is that it is substantially longer than alternatives, overnight, and requires a change of trains. I'm not one to say trains must be nearly as fast as the car, but I do think it has to be "reasonable", admittedly a subjective term. Driving Kansas City to Denver is about 8.5 hours, and a direct Greyhound does it in just over 11 with stops, including a daytime option. Amtrak would take over 15 hours overnight and require a connection. I doubt it would attract many passengers -- probably a tiny fraction of what a daytime train would running a more direct route. Can't really guess how many it would be each day but it would not surprise me if we're talking a few handfuls at best per train. And because that is the backbone of what would justify the La Junta extension, I think it's a tough sell.

If the Southwest Chief is rerouted to run through Pueblo that's largely a different story. Connections could take place without any added cost of extending the Front Range route. Not knowing what sort of times the train would pass through PUB it's hard to speculate how well schedules could mesh, and there is the same concern where you do not want to sacrifice local corridor traffic by scheduling inconvenient times in the name of LD connections. But should it reroute through Pueblo that's probably a much more plausible way to link Denver to the Southwest Chief, as much as I would enjoy seeing a La Junta extension in some ways.
 
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Willbridge

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I've strung schedules for the alternatives and rerouting the SWC via Pueblo comes out better than depending on a corridor train extension. Even with good intentions a transcon will be wildly late a few times a year and thereby miss the corridor train. Going through Pueblo the connection may drop back to the next corridor train. If a wait for the next corridor connection is too long, it's easier to get a chartered bus at Pueblo than at La Junta.

The best combination is:
  • Trains 3 and 4 via Pueblo and Walsenburg.
  • Corridor connection at Pueblo to Train 4 and from Train 3.
  • Bus connection via corridor rail stations to Train 3 and from Train 4.
  • Abandon Santa Fe line between La Junta and Trinidad except for the access to the Army armor training facility.
The big question, aside from the usual freight capacity issues colored by the decline in coal, is whether the extra time in each direction results in problems with the turn of equipment in Los Angeles.

DEN<>KCY was a strong enough route to have twice daily service on the KP line till May 1971. However, like DEN<>OMA the most popular schedule was overnight. The DEN<>KCY trip via the Santa Fe line would satisfy some overnight travelers and adds connections onward at KCY. There's an existing schedule pattern now from LAJ to NOL for the hardy. The growth of Colorado Springs and its military dependent traffic is a factor as well.
 

jebr

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Short of rerouting the train to Pueblo (which would make quite a bit of sense) it seems the best option would be to provide connectivity with a Thruway bus, maybe contracting with the agencies that currently run the Bustang and Outrider services to provide additional train-oriented service. If kept on the existing route, I'd probably do connections in Trinidad or Raton - it cuts off a fair amount of time (and gives better departure/arrival times throughout CO) for day trips to ABQ and points west, and the timing wouldn't be terrible for eastbound traffic (or westbound arrivals) either - certainly La Junta would have shorter trip times, but if running to both isn't an option going straight south on the interstate seems to make more sense.
 

Willbridge

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Bustang might have a problem with going outside of the state because sovereign immunity wouldn't protect them. I worked on the origin of the DEN <> RAT connection in 1997 after the Desert Wind was discontinued. We looked at LAJ, TRI, and RAT. RAT gave the best times at Denver and avoided conflicting with the big group moves of Boy Scouts between the Midwest and Raton. Also, there's more to do in Raton near the station if things go awry.

Amtrak and CDOT (Bustang) have talked but my surmise is that CDOT has just had too much on its plate.
 
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Cal

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The big question, aside from the usual freight capacity issues colored by the decline in coal, is whether the extra time in each direction results in problems with the turn of equipment in Los Angeles.
The Builder does a fairly fast turn in Seattle and Portland, only about 6-7 hours. The Chief turn time is 7-8. How much more time would the rerouting through Pueblo add?
 

Willbridge

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The Builder does a fairly fast turn in Seattle and Portland, only about 6-7 hours. The Chief turn time is 7-8. How much more time would the rerouting through Pueblo add?
Using the pre-Amtrak schedules and a dwell in Pueblo I estimated 3:30 to 3:50 between LAJ and TRI. That's about 2 hours more than the current route. Times 2 for the round-trip. It's akin to the Empire Builder running via Grand Forks. In terms of marketing, it's a penalty in terms of travel time, it's a bonus in terms of tapping Front Range populations, and it's more dramatic scenery than the current route.

I've attached my 2014 estimates.
 

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Cal

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Using the pre-Amtrak schedules and a dwell in Pueblo I estimated 3:30 to 3:50 between LAJ and TRI. That's about 2 hours more than the current route. Times 2 for the round-trip. It's akin to the Empire Builder running via Grand Forks. In terms of marketing, it's a penalty in terms of travel time, it's a bonus in terms of tapping Front Range populations, and it's more dramatic scenery than the current route.

I've attached my 2014 estimates.
I think it's doable, the LA Yards are generally pretty good, right?

Any videos of the more dramatic scenery? I'd love to see it
 

Willbridge

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I think it's doable, the LA Yards are generally pretty good, right?

Any videos of the more dramatic scenery? I'd love to see it
It isn't CZ level scenery but the Pueblo - Trinidad former C&S line is closer to the Rockies' Spanish Peaks than the former Santa Fe line. The penalty for that is lots of curves. I took a look at it in Google street view but that's mostly the view from I-25.

I did find a well-done amateur video from the Walsenburg area that features one of Colorado's literally big attractions - a beach without an ocean.

Walsenburg and sand dunes

Walsenburg | Spanish Peaks County - Explore Southern Colorado's rich history, natural wonders, and artistic inspiration
 
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Cal

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It isn't CZ level scenery but the Pueblo - Trinidad former C&S line is closer to the Rockies' Spanish Peaks than the former Santa Fe line. The penalty for that is lots of curves. I took a look at it in Google street view but that's mostly the view from I-25.

I did find a well-done amateur video from the Walsenburg area that features one of Colorado's literally big attractions - a beach without an ocean.

Walsenburg and sand dunes
Thanks for the information. I went over it on Google Earth. Looks like decent scenery.

That 'beach' is neat.
 
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As the third comment on that video points out, the Great Sand Dunes National Park is not at Walsenburg, but on the other side of the Sangre de Christo Mountains, in the San Luis Valley, but the route along I-25 is closer to the mountains than the current one.

 
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