Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Chama steam rail yard before Christmas

View of rotary snowplow and Chama train station

On Monday, after checking and doing a bit of work at the marina at Heron Lake, Gerald and I drove into Chama. The railyard was looking scenic in the snow, so we snapped a few pictures. We also visited with one of the local business owners, which was easy on a slow day.

iew of narrow-gauge rail cars with wintery mountain background

Chama, Cumbres & Toltec station and portion of rail yard with rotary snow plow framed by tree

Narrow-gauge rail cards and roundhouse


Gerald with holiday scenery, snow, and mountains; Gerald enjoying the view of the rail yard

Rail cars with coal-fired steam loco and tender in background

Coal tipple behind barn in Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad yard in Chama

Coal tipple and barn

Gerald and Chama village holiday scene

The double-spouted water tank is a unique feature of the rail yard for the Chama terminus of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railway

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Heron Lake Marina in the snow, December 18, 2010

View from the marina point into Willow Creek Cove, the Narrows, and Heron Lake, New Mexico.

View of Heron Lake Marina A and B docks, with marina shelter and gangway, from marina point, December 18, 2010.

Gangway, Heron Lake Marina, Willow Creek Cove at Heron Lake, New Mexico, USA.


According to ( http://www.fws.gov/southwest/mrgbi/resources/dams/index.html ), Heron Lake has a capacity of 399,980 acre-feet at a crest elevation of 7,192 feet and its dam, completed in 1971, is 276 feet tall and 1221 feet long. The early efforts at crating a marina were simple affairs using 55-gallon drums for floats. As the reservoir filled during the 1970s, the then-young New Mexico Sailing Club moved its activities from Navajo Lake and the Cochiti reservoir to Heron. Around 1989, the club arranged to take over and expand the small state-owned marina in Willow Creek Cove. Since then, the marina has been renovated and improved.

Bottom of gangway.

Heron Lake is a high-altitude lake in northern New Mexico within view of high mountains in New Mexico and Colorado. The marina, which is owned and operated by the New Mexico Sailing Club as a concession of the New Mexico State Parks division, is open for about half the year, from late April until mid- to late October.

Top of gangway for Heron Marina.

View down gangway to Heron Lake Marina.

Top of gangway, view from south side

View from the south of Heron Lake Marina and gangway

Panoramic view of Heron Lake Marina in the snow, December 18, 2010.

South side of Willow Creek Cove. Note the islet in the center; when the lake surface is several feet higher this is a hazard to navigation between the boat ramp and the marina.

Southeast corner of Willow Creek Cove, showing mooring buoys and cable.

View from the south showing the entire gangway system for the Heron Lake Marina.

Chama railyard in the snow, Dec. 18, 2010

Rail cars and train station in Chama, New Mexico.

Snow, tree, and train station in the snow.

Detail showing train station and rotary snowplow car. The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad has two old rotary snowplow cars, one of which was used several years ago to clear snow from the line after an unusually heavy winter snowfall.

Detail of railyard park in Chama, New Mexico. At an altitude of about 7900 feet and with a location just a few miles from the Colorado border, Chama often sees significant winter snow. The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is owned by the states of Colorado and New Mexico and preserves a scenic, high-altitude segment of the former Denver and Rio Grande narrow-gauge railroad.

Chama, a mountain village with a population of about 1,200, is an eighteen-mile drive from our cabin and the nearest thing to a town within fifty miles. Of particular historical note is that several years ago, during road construction on the north end of town, a traffic light was temporarily installed and operated to service a construction detour. After the completion of construction, the traffic light was removed. Now, the closest traffic light would be in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, fifty miles to the northwest; or in Espan~ola, New Mexico, 65 miles to the south.

Snow in Albuquerque

Expedition ("Babe") Thursday morning after snowfall in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA.

Snow on motor vehicles in Albuquerque on December 16, 2010. More than an inch fell, covering the ground, but it had melted or soaked into the ground by sunrise because of mild temperatures.

That is the typical story for winter snow in Albuquerque; the winters are typically mild in spite of New Mexico's high elevation and location along the Continental Divide, which passes about a hundred miles to the west of our home in Albuquerque and almost within sight of our cabin in northern New Mexico.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Heron Lake will rise again...

It seemed to me that the Corps and Bureau websites show that there isn't too much or anything left for the contractors to take.

SJ-C (San Juan-Chama) water taken out from Heron Lake, 2010, acre feet
28 April
458 May
238 June
0 July
31,899 August
45,008 September
0 October
77,522 total af of SJ-C water withdrawn through October.

The Heron Lake level was 7158.59' with 256,935 SJ-C acre feet and 257,313 total acre-feet remaining at the end of October 2010.

7,154.31' is the current Heron Level with 238,102 acre feet as of December 13, 2010, 2200 (10 pm) implies that roughly another 18,000 or so acre feet have been taken out during November and December.

This would account for almost all of the annual water available to contractors of 96,200 acre feet per annual water season. Heron has gone up several inches and more than a thousand acre feet in the past three days.

The implication is that SJ-C water is no longer being taken out and the marina should be safe through the winter.



By the way, I did get to sail last Saturday at Elephant Butte Lake in between presiding over my last RGSC board meeting and the year-end party. At the White Elephant (White Whale?) gift exchange, Carol Anne scored a bottle of good rum ... aaaarrr, matey!

More water details.
As of the end of October, when about 80% of the available water for the year had been removed from Heron, here is how what each contractor removed compared with their total allocation. If some contractors removed more during the season than they were entitled to, it presumably means they bought some water from another contractor.

Taken Total Contractor
0 20900 Middle Rio Grande Conservancy
5730 5230 City of Santa Fe
0 375 County of Santa Fe
8648 5000 Cochiti Lake
48200 48200 City of Albuquerque
708 1030 Pojoaque Unit
0 400 Taos
0 1200 Los Alamos
150 1000 Espanola
0 15 Twining
0 400 Los Lunas
0 400 Bernalillo
0 500 Belen
0 60 Red River
0 6500 Jicarilla Apache
0 2000 San Juan Pueblo
0 2990 uncontracted
77,250 taken as of end of October; 96,200 total is what is available for the contractors during each water year.

Note that the numbers don't add up right; the total of what is shown as taken out from each contractor (63,256) was about 14,000 acre-feet short of the 77,250 total as of the end of October. Most of this is likely Middle Rio Grande Water that hasn't been put in the tally yet as being drawn by MRGCD.

For more details, see


Thursday, December 09, 2010

End of weekend sailing at Eagle Mountain Lake

J/105 race boat framed by trees at Eagle Mountain Lake.

More scenic peeking at boats from the Fort Worth Boat Club

J/105 no. 1105

An impressive feature was the club's nearly non-stop weekend schedule, with races scheduled for every weekend in December.

The Boat Club seemed to be the lake's hub of sailing activity, with plenty of traffic in and out of the marina even on a Sunday in December.

Boats and harbor

Boats and harbor view

Foreground and background

Sailors could have made quite a busy weekend at the Fort Worth Boat Club; in addition to the weekend of racing, the club hosted a big dinner party Saturday night along with viewing of the lake's holiday lights boat parade.

Fleet under sail

Boats in line.

Two boats

2 boats and harbor

Sunday lunch break sights on Eagle Mountain Lake

Two boats enjoying Texas sun and breeze at Eagle Mountain Lake near Fort Worth, Texas, December 5, 2010.

Spinnaker shot

Two boats enjoy December sunshine

Flying Circus

J/boat and maybe a Merit?

Member Perquisites

Fort Worth Boat Club dinghies in foreground, J/22s and inner portion of marina in background.

It is common courtesy and a good idea for yacht and sailing clubs to offer little perks and goodies to their members. For example, when we visited the Fort Worth Boat Club, we noticed fresh popcorn that was provided at the end of the day's racing.

And some clubs go further and make club-owned boats available to members who don't have a boat or who want to try something different. Many clubs will have a dinghy fleet that can be used for recreation as well as for teaching sailing to youth and adults. Sometimes a club will also have one or a few small keelboats or pocket cruisers.

However, the Fort Worth Boat Club seems to out-do the vast majority of clubs in this area. In addition to the usual dinghies, the FWBC owns a whole fleet of ten J/22 race boats that can by used by club members. And, even the pickiest racer is likely to have few bottom complaints, since all the boats are kept up out of the water on hydro hoist lifts.

Inner marina west side, showing J/22s.

View to the southwest showing a row of J/22s on hydro hoists.