When the Union Pacific bought the Rio Grande and Southern Pacific in 1996, it closed the Tennessee Pass line between Parkdale and Minturn, making the route feasible for a tourist operation. Within two years, the Royal Gorge Route Railroad began taking passengers through the dark depths of the Royal Gorge, the most scenic and accessible portion of the route using reconditioned EMD F-7s and former VIA/CN coaches.
Since then, the fleet of locomotives and cars has expanded and so has their line-up of classes and activities. Elsewhere, the recession that took serious hold after Katrina in 2005 has stacked up unneeded railcars nearly everywhere the railroads can store them, including sidings on the Tennessee Pass line. As these steel curtains clog up the landscape all over America, could the Royal Gorge Route possibly turn a profit?
In a word, yes. In fact, 2009 was the best year in their 11 year history.