|Photo of the Day by Timothy Tonge|
As Mr. Tonge also points out, Spruce was one of the locations where the main lines of the Rio Grande (lower, left) and Santa Fe (right) crossed over each other. By the middle of the frame, the former Rio Grande main is the curving grade on the right! All of this was a fight to gain the elevation needed to crest the Palmer Divide just a couple miles distant.
Those familiar with the line will notice something a little strange about this shot. Although there are 4 locomotives, they are all trailing as pushers. The train is following the right-hand rule that is almost always in place on the Joint Line, allowing both UP and BNSF to use the former Rio Grande and former Santa Fe main lines as a double-tracked expressway for most of its distance between Denver and Walsenburg. It is remarkable that despite mergers, this has remained a two-railroad district for over a century!
PS: There is a theme to the Photos of the Day over the next week. While they all feature the same photographer, railroad, and section of the Joint Line, there is also a hidden theme that will be revealed on the 15th.⚒