Jim Pearce Collection
Jim Pearce was employed by the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad for 46 years, from 1948 to 1994. During his tenure, he was a fireman, engineer, and a roadmaster of equipment. He saw the ending of the narrow-gauge locomotive era and was there when the new standard-gauge diesel locomotives took over.
In January 1957, Jim Pearce and several of his railroad crewmates were stranded in a blizzard atop Cumbres Pass in the San Juan mountains. The Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News reported on the predicament in the following clippings:
In the winter of 1963, Jim was a roadmaster of equipment assigned out of Alamosa. His supervisors directed him to take Ron Ziel, famed railroad author and photographer on a ‘ride-along’. Ron was, at the time, working on his book The Twilight of Steam Locomotives.
Jim was a ‘by-the-book’ railroader who didn’t initially view this as standard protocol, especially for safety reasons. But he had no say in the matter. He took Ron along, and recounted that Ron was especially fascinated by the D&RGW’s steam (freight) system in southern Colorado. Ron would feature in his book several steam engines that traveled between Durango & Silverton and Chama & Alamosa. Jim was tasked with taking Ron along in the sub-zero weather during a Chama/Alamosa run.
Ron Ziel repaid Jim with a signed copy of his book The Twilight of Steam Locomotives including an acknowledgment in the forward, and also several photos from the trip.
Some of these images are reprinted below:
Engine 488 snow spreader and flange. Taken February 1963.
This image did not include photographer credit, but is presumed to be taken by Ron Ziel. It was featured in the book The Twilight of Steam Locomotives.
Engine 491 at Pagosa Junction and the San Juan River. From Dick Kindig and Ed Haley. Featured in the book The Twilight of Steam Locomotives.
This image did not include photographer credit, but is presumed to be taken by Ron Ziel as it is featured in the book The Twilight of Steam Locomotives.
Possibly Denver & Rio Grande engine 481 with 48 cars at Bondad, Colorado. From Dick Kindig and Ed Haley.
The Good Guys and the Bad Guys
During Jim’s tenure with the Denver & Rio Grande Western, Hollywood paid a visit when the filming for the Good Guys and the Bad Guys took place in Chama, New Mexico.
Jim procured some souvenirs from the experience, notably, a timetable that includes the signatures of Robert Mitchum, Vincent Romaine, Mike Wagner, Martin Balsam, David Carradine, and Christopher Mitchum.