Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad

From Chama, New Mexico to Antonito, Colorado - two trains meet in Osier, Colorado for lunch and will make a return trip the following day. Now on my 5th year on the railroad, I am more exited than ever to witness the season’s change firsthand. Already the snow has melted and made for historic water levels, flooding the valley. Just now, in late June, the snow has nearly finished melting with snow patches remaining on the North-East slopes. We’ve watched the sheep graze, the elk migrate, and yak be brought into a local ranch. There are more baby elk than I ever remember and the colors are on the brink of magnificent.

To purchase this image:  click here

To purchase this image: click here

From left to right:
The passenger train has just arrived to the depot around 4 in the afternoon. After unloading the passengers, the train will turn around in town on the Y. Bob Ross, seen walking is President of the Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec Railroad, a volunteer organization dedicated to maintaining the historic railroad. With over 2,000 volunteers both labor and financial, they truly are the backbone of the railroad. Next is Brad, seen pulling the box step down for the arriving passengers. Brad works dispatch and parking lot patrol during the train season and Santa during the off season. Next, in the green jacket, is a passenger stepping off the train. Beside her, David. He is a new Brakeman from San Antonito, fun fact about David, he is single. In the pink standing with pride & a smile, is Roberta, as she welcomes the oncoming train. Behind her, in a hard to see shadow, is her husband, Ray Martinez. The two of them are highschool sweethearts. Ray is 4th generation railroad to the Cumbres & Toltec and has been on the railroad for the last 45 years. In the blue is a man who works in the ticket office, which is the most adjacent room in the pictured depot.

On the far right is the bus, which is used to take passengers either to Antonito or to Chama either before or after their train ride. A passenger has the option to park their car in the Chama depot, take the 8:30 a.m. bus in the morning to Anonito and the 10:00 a.m. train back to Chama. The train will arrive in the Chama depot around 4-4:30 p.m. For passengers who parked their car in Antonito and chose to take the 10:00 a.m. train ride, the bus will be waiting for them in Chama to take them back to their starting point.

The Rio de los Pinos or River of the Pines. (pictured above)

All the water seen here flows from Trujillo Meadows, an alpine lake at 10,200 feet, and into the Rio Grande. This picture, taken mid June, is a testament to to the above average snowfall by the still remaining patches of snow. The water levels are at record highs and even the veterans, the ones who have been here for decades, say they have never seen anything like it.

To purchase this image:  click here

To purchase this image: click here

To purchase this image:  click here

To purchase this image: click here

To purchase this image:  click here

To purchase this image: click here

This is the longest and highest narrow gauge line in the country. At over 64 miles long, 10,015ft high, and steam engines built in 1925 and older. This is more than a joy ride, it is an all day affair packed with history and scenic views. US Today has rated the Cumbres & Toltec the #1 railroad in the country for 2 years in a row. Book your tickets @

Home for 100 Years!

Perryton was founded in 1919 and hosts the annual Wheat Heart of the Nation Celebration every year in recognition of the massive wheat production in Ochiltree County. This painting of the Equity grain elevator here in Perryton was auctioned at the WheatART of the Nation Art Competition and Auction. One of my favorite parts about Perryton there’s nothing better to do than paint. Here is the process:

First things first, a frame. When building a house, a car, or a piece of art. Because I wanted the canvas and the frame to measure out to 4 ft on every side, I carefully cut and laid out cuts for the structure before I wrapped the canvas. The 2x2 the canvas bars were clamped, screwed, and sanded to be sure not to leave any harsh lines on the stretched canvas.


Using a standard canvas drop cloth, stretching pliers, and a staple gun I wrapped the canvas around the wooden frame. Stretching it like a drum, making the center tight first by stapling top, bottom, left, and right and repeating opposite sides until you’ve wrapped around the corners. Be sure to staple on the back, leave extra room for the corners while stretching, and fold your corners neatly. Because I would later be drilling 4 holes into the back of the canvas, I decided to adhere the back of the canvas to the frame using wood glue and a brush.


Next I painted the canvas white, carefully applying even strokes across the large surface. Using a slow criss-cross technique, covering the canvas longways and then covering the canvas across, removing excess paint along the way. I am also sure to cover the edges evenly.


After a couple of layers of white, a sanded finish, and a replication of white, I drew out the outline using Photoshop for measurements. I was able to crop the picture to the actual size of the canvas and align the architecture more accurately and aesthetically. Not to mention drying time.


A mix of pthalo blue, cerrelian blue, and a dash of alimzuren crimson from my dry pigment jar was used for the base, adding titanium white to the lower sections. Instead of painting to the line, I chose to paint over the line to fulfill the illusion that the sky is behind the building, using long, even, and time consuming patience they blue sky was painted. It’s arguable I blended too much and that there’s not enough contrast between the bottom and top. However I really enjoy the reflection the blue has and it’s slight separation from a picture perfect sky.


After waiting days for the blue to dry, I remeasured and drew out my lines again. This time filling the section with white. After this layer of white is dry, I am able to finally draw out the details.


For the detailed sections, I used a 1:1 transfer, to avoid any discrepancies and to save time. For everything else I took measurements and color samples from Photoshop. The first goal is to cover the canvas.

The canvas is upside down so I can easily wrap the paint around the edge

The canvas is upside down so I can easily wrap the paint around the edge


It placed first in the painting category among a wonderful body of submissions. It was won by Wes Beal, who plans to hang the piece in the Equity Exchange main office here in Perryton.

Being that Ochiltree County is one of the leading producers of wheat for the country, it's a given there's not much scenery, unless you have a thing for wheat fields. The grain elevators in surrounding areas serve as a monument to their local communities, it's the first thing you'll see coming into town.

The final piece, including the frame, measures to 4ft x 4ft.


Daci West


Daci West

If Daci got in a fight with her yesterday self, she would kick her ass. She is an ex smoker, ex meat eater, and she knows the operose side of loyalty. She works hard to play hard. Daci is making photography her own through Confluent Productions, with pictures in a laundromat dryer, a volunteer p project through the Crises Center, and pictures under a clothing rack.


We ran around town trying to catch the overcast, delivered some pictures, and went to the studio to get some pictures. For fear of having the same outfit, we looked around the art studio for something to wear. I picked up a dirty used canvas drop cloth and decided against it and quickly lost hope, I figured the first outfit would be fine. Daci trusted her gut, she could hear something calling her name; with a little rummaging, a tattered and misused piece of lace.

A Laci Dac


If you want to see Daci in a hard hat, click here