the Chama yard, just south of the coal tipple a sand house holds facilities for
screening and drying the sand. The sand tank on top of the sand house hooks up to the
engine and fills the engines sand reservoir.
At south end of the Sand House there is an outdoor storage bin made of
heavy timber railroad ties stacked 7 feet high. Fresh sand is shoveled from the storage
bin to the covered sand house.
Inside the sand house there is a large coal stove with a screening
skirt. The stove heats the sand to dry it thoroughly. Once the sand dries the fine
particles fall through the screen on the stove and onto the concrete floor. Large stones
and trash are trapped in the screen. From the floor the fine screened sand is hand
shoveled through a second screen to the holding bin at the north end of the sand house.
When a train takes sand, compressed air from the engine is used to blow the sand up into
the tank on the wooden tower outside of the sand house. Gravity then feeds the dry sand
into the sand dome of the engine. Processing the sand is a complex operation that requires
the sand to be shoveled three times before it can be used.
Trains use a great deal of sand. Where? At the Wheels! Steam locomotives
and diesel engines have a mechanism to drop sand in front of the wheels where they meet
the track rails. The wheels can slip on the rails when the locomotive is pulling hard, if
the track is wet or frozen and when the track is oily. A little sand between the steel
rail and the steel wheels improves traction. The C&TS uses tons and tons of sand each