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Take a visual tour of New Mexico’s historic railroads

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By The Staff

Since 1973, Santa Fe architect Richard Dorman has collected photographs of narrow gauge railroads in New Mexico and Colorado. He donated the collection of more than 25,000 pictures to the Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec Railroad in 2006.

Historic railroad buff Vern Glover will show a sampling of the photographs and talk about their significance during the upcoming lecture of the Los Alamos Historical Society at                                                                           7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Fuller Lodge. The public is invited to this free lecture.

Glover said, “The photographs are a remarkable personal collection. There are 16,000 black-and-white pictures … that was his passion. And he is a well-educated, bright man.”

Dorman, a renowned architect, lives in Santa Fe. In past years, he practiced in the Los Angeles area and was once featured on the cover of Life Magazine.  After a ride on the narrow gauge Silverton train in 1973, he was fascinated with the narrow gauge railroads of Colorado and New Mexico. He began collecting photographs and has never stopped.  Over the years he published 12 books from his collection, which ultimately exceeded 16,000 black-and-white images and 5,000 color slides.

“It is a remarkable broad collection and our goal is to make it available to New Mexico,” Glover said.  

In 2006, the Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad entered into a purchase/gift agreement with Dorman to acquire the collection over a two-year period.  Since then the volunteers at the Friends have digitally scanned, identified and filled in the details of all the black-and-white images and have made progress on the slides. The job should be done in another year or so.  The Tuesday presentation of images is only a small sampling of the collection.  Further information about the Richard L. Dorman Collection of Historic Narrow Gauge Photographs is available from the Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, 6005 Osuna Road NE in Albuquerque. For more information, call 505-880-1311. At this time, a CD-ROM catalog of more than 400 photos of The Chili Line is available at nominal cost.

Glover, is a retired manufacturing engineer living in Rio Rancho. His interest in southwestern railroad history goes back to exposure to the narrow gauge steam trains from Colorado operating at the 1949 Chicago Railroad Fair.

After coming to work in New Mexico in 1959, he was involved in the founding of the Railroad Club of New Mexico and continued his studies of New Mexico railroads. 

His interest has continued to the present and he has an extensive library of historic documents and books on New Mexico railroad history.

Over the years, Glover has written papers on many aspects of New Mexico railroads, ranging from logging companies to the thousand-mile El Paso and Southwestern system owned by the Phelps Dodge copper interests.  In the 1970s, he and Spencer Wilson became interested in the preservation side of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. 

That activity, too, has continued to the present day. Preservation of the Richard L. Dorman Collection of Historic Narrow Gauge Photographs is a more recent endeavor.