Larry Todd

A Love Affair With the Rio Grande

  • My love for the Rio Grande began at an early age. My Mother told me that when I was about a year old I would run to the north facing window of our apartment when I heard a train coming. I don’t remember what the power was but it was probably the Grande’s L-131s or early diesels in the black and yellow.

    We lived just across the Arkansas River from the Royal Gorge mainline. As time went on, we moved away from the Grande mainline and lived just east of the AT&SF Branch that went to the New Jersey Zinc plant south of town. I soon made friends with the AT&SF crew and received many rides from them in the old Alco RSD5s.

    As the years past, I would read many books on the Rio Grande and the Santa Fe. I was always envious of the guys who had the pictures published and wished I could have been the photographer.

    In the early 70s, I met a photographer who was going to become a lifelong friend, Ed Fulcomer. Ed taught me how to take pictures. Our first outing was to La Junta. Colorado, I used on old Kodak Pony 35mm camera. I soon realized that I needed a good camera. Shortly after that trip, I ordered a Pentax Spotmatic that I used for years. After obtaining that camera, Ed and I went to the Monarch Branch and shot trains there. Our next trip was to Tennessee Pass. I loved it! Then came the Craig Branch. Ed and I piled into my small VW bug and drove for many hours to Phippsburg. We complained about how cramped we were, as we are both good sized guys, until we figured the gas mileage. After that we took the bug just about everywhere!

    In early 1980, I purchased a Nikon and a 70-210 mm zoom lens which I still use today. That camera has been the best investment I ever made. I soon learned what it could do and was amazed. I made many trips to Tennessee Pass and the Craig Branch and took many shots.

    I have had a blast shooting the Grande. I often traveled with my daughters, Jennifer and Kirsten. I would like to thank them for counting the cars and helping with the railfanning. My 2 youngest daughters, Diana and Megan, would just tolerate me and seemed bored. But I still had a great time! I would also like to thank my wife, Terry, for putting up with my craziness and the basement full of trains.

    I just wish the Grande was still running but we can all benefit from the photographs everyone has taken. It is only right to share your shots. Here are some of mine. Enjoy!

    Larry Todd