ALAMOSA– While officials with the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad work to restore both freight and passenger service on the fire-damaged rail line between here and LaVeta, those attending Poco concerts over the weekend donated nearly $900 to assist the Costilla County Fire Department.
A “fill the boot” effort was conducted during the two concerts moved to Richardson Hall at Adams State University due to unsafe conditions and destruction of the railroad stage at Fir by the ongoing Spring Fire. The campaign was co-sponsored by RGSRR and the Valley Courier, according to Matt Abbey, special events director for the railroad.
“Special thanks to ASU and Don Richmond for working with us to salvage the Poco Concert this weekend,” Abbey said. Local favorite Richmond opened for the main act both Saturday and Sunday.
Abbey said the railroad continues to provide water by rail tank car to the firefighting effort near Forbes Park and beyond as local fire brigades struggle with limited water.
“Our railroad is filling tanker cars with water and delivering them to the edge of the fire zone,” he said. “We are delivering about 125,000 galls per day on our nickel and they can fill four fire tanker trucks at a time. It’s amazing.”
Water is being provided by the City of Alamosa.
Abbey said repairs are underway on damaged areas of the railway especially the Sierra bridge near Forbes Park which was destroyed by fire. The bridge will be replaced with culverts and may be open by Friday, he said.
“We will then sprint to catch up the freight service,” Abbey said, noting that 400 jobs around the community “rely on our rail connection.”
RGSRR officials have been to the Fir concert site near the top of LaVeta Pass and found the stage totally gone including its contents and infrastructure that included controls for the site’s solar and wind generation. The “green room” with its doodles, “artist graffiti” and autographs was part of the stage and is gone.
Abbey said the remainder of the site is basically untouched and will be ready for service after its washed down. The railroad has 15,000 gallons of water on site, plus some pumps, “so washing will commence when the evacuation order is lifted.”
The brick dance floor in front of what was the box car replica stage will serve as the stage in the short term. Peter Yarrow of “Peter, Paul and Mary” fame is the next scheduled act which is expected to proceed as schedule.
“We will build, rent, borrow or acquire a canopy for the dance floor so that the artists are covered,” Abbey said.
A fundraising campaign is underway for the Fir concert venue at: www.gofundme.com/fir-concert-stage
Caption: A RGSRR employee surveys the destruction at the Fir concert stage after being ravished by the Spring Fire late last week./Courtesy photo