Trinidad to La Junta

Trinidad is on the western edge of the Great Plains that climb gradually all the way from the Missouri River. The high plains of Colorado are largely arid, useful only for livestock grazing and dry farming.  At Trinidad (MP 635.8), the depot is on the northwest side of the line, with three total tracks (only 2MT, with the extra track on the south side) at this point. The 2MT continue past the station, a mile or so further east, past a grade crossing at a street intersection just east of the platform, grain silos and a small yard on the north side of the line, and a freight depot on the south side. The line continues northeast as single track, TWC, ABS, with a speed limit initially of 79-70, past a fromer Santa Fe yard on the southeast side of the line and a former BN (Colorado Southern) yard beyond it (i.e. further away), with a grade crossing within the yard and a road bridge overhead just east of the yard, extra track on the south side, a flat crossing with a connector in the northwest corner between the former ATSF and former BN/CS line heading for their West Trinidad, then passing under a through girder bridge carrying the BN/CS Trinchera Pass line between their East Trinidad and West Trinidad, and passing the former location of a D&RGW flat crossing near their El Moro.

The speed limit rises to 90-70 (with Automatic Train Stop), the line descends at a 1.1% grade, and there is a dirt road grade crossing, east-facing Intermediate Signals, two dirt road grade crossings, MP 633, a bridge over a stream, a dirt road grade crossing, east-facing Intermediate Signals, three dirt road grade crossings, a grade crossing, a bridge over a gulley, a road alongside to the south, a grade crossing, the 6,150 ft. siding on the north side at Hoehnes (MP 627.0), with two grade crossings within the siding whose east end is at MP 626.3, with more trees along the line here than further east, and the speed limit falls to 75-70, past a grade crossing and through curves (40 mph on the curves) to the southeast, where there is a bridge over a stream and semaphore (in 1997)/triple-light (in 2006) Intermediate Signals at MP 624.1/2, northeast, where the Spanish Peaks are visible off to the northwest, with the Sangre de Cristo Mountains arrayed to the south of them, southeast, with a bridge over a gulley on the curve, past a dirt road on the south side and Intermediate Signals (MP 620.1/2) and a bridge over a gulley, with the mountains on the New Mexico border visible off to the south, and northeast again, past a detector at MP 618.5, a bridge over a gulley, a dirt road grade crossing, Intermediate Signals at Earl, a bridge over a gulley.

The line heads north-northeast, with a road alongside to the east, past a dirt road grade crossing, the semaphore (in 1997)/triple-light (in 2006) signals at the "west" end of the 4,750 ft. siding on the west side at Model (MP 615.0), where there is a dirt road grade crossing within the siding, the speed limit rises to 90-70 again and there are semaphore (in 1997)/triple-light (in 2006) signals at the "east" end (MP 614.3), a dirt road grade crossing, a bridge over a gulley, a dirt road grade crossing, Intermediate Signals at Tyrone, a bridge over a gulley, semaphore (in 1997)/triple-light (in 2006) Intermediate Signals, a bridge over a gulley, and a dirt road grade crossing. The line curves northeast, with a road alongside to the south/east, through the 6,250 ft. siding on the west side at Simpson (MP 604.7), where there is extra track on the east side and then on the west side as the road curves away to the east, a bridge over a dirt road, Intermediate Signals near MP 602, a dirt road grade crossing, two bridges over gullies, an ungated grade crossing, Intermediate Signals at Thatcher (MP 599.8), an embankment leading to a curve east-northeast past searchlight (in 1997) Intermediate Signals near MP 597, an ungated grade crossing, and a detector at MP 594.5.

There is a grade crossing, and the line turns north-northeast past semaphore (in 1997)/triple-light (in 2006) Intermediate Signals near MP 594 (Houghton), a bridge over a gulley, and the signals (in 1997, two semaphores and one searchlight; in 2006, triple-lights) at the "west" end of the 6,250 ft. siding on the west side at Delhi (MP 591.5), with a grade crossing within the siding and, in 2006, two triple-lights and one west-facing semaphore at the "east" end, and a bridge over a gulley, northeast past Intermediate Signals near MP 590, east past semaphore (in 1997)/triple-light (in 2006) Intermediate Signals near MP 586 (Broom), east-northeast, on an embankment on the curve, past a dirt road grade crossing, a road alongside to the east, a bridge over a gulley, semaphore (in 1997)/west-facing semaphore and two east-facing triple-lights (in 2006) signals at the "west" end of the 6,000 ft. siding on the north side at Mindeman (MP 583.0), semaphore (in 1997)/triple-light (in 2006) signals at the "east" end, a bridge over a gulley, a dirt road grade crossing, a road alongside to the east, a bridge over a gulley, semaphore (in 1997)/triple-light (in 2006) Intermediate Signals near MP 580, a bridge over a gulley, semaphore (in 1997)/triple-light (in 2006) Intermediate Signals near MP 577 (Ayer), a bridge over a gulley, an s-curve, a bridge over a gulley, the 4,650 ft. siding on the south side at Timpas (MP 572.3), with a spur on the south side at the east end, a bridge over a gulley, a curve with a speed restriction, Intermediate Signals at Rene, three bridges over drainage, Intermediate Signals near MP 569, an ungated grade crossing, a detector at MP 566.5, immediately adjacent to Intermediate Signals and an ungated grade crossing, Intermediate Signals near MP 564, a bridge over a gulley, Benton (MP 563.5), an ungated grade crossing, Intermediate Signals near MP 562, an ungated grade crossing, Ormega (MP 558.0), an ungated grade crossing, Intermediate Signals near MP 557, and an ungated grade crossing.

The line turns north, with a street alongside to the southeast, and then east as the speed limit drops to 40 mph, with a bridge over a road below right at the wye's south junction, where the west leg of a wye heads northwest, passes stuffed-and-mounted ATSF 2-6-2 1024 on the east/south side of the line, a bridge over a divided highway and two private grade crossings in the east leg of the wye, and the two tracks of the line from Pueblo trail in from the west-northwest, along the Arkansas River valley, at the west end of the La Junta yard on the north side of the line. There are signals, a bridge over drainage, spurs on the south side extending east almost to the station, a crossover (Shanola Xover), signals, and the station at La Junta (MP 554.9), where there are two platform tracks (with a platform between them and a platform on the south side) and two other tracks between the station and the yard tracks, the depot is located on the south side of the tracks with the town beyond it, and there is a spur on the south side, east of the depot.

On Train 4, eastbound, darkness falls between Trinidad and La Junta (if not earlier). For the traveler, this means that the break between the high plains farming styles, and the mid-Western farming styles seen in Illinois, Missouri, and eastern Kansas, takes place overnight. The result is a distinctly visible change between the evening and morning scenery.