.  
 New Mexico logo

Date of visit:
June 6, 2001

For location of this site in NM, click on the map:
Location of Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad
 

We rate this trip a:

Trip Highlights:
 Tickets expensive
 Tickets worth the $$
 Well managed
 Walk the yards
 Comfortable bus ride
 Uncrowded in June
 Very Scenic
 Open "Cattle Car"
 Majestic Views
 Lunch at Osier
 Travel at 10mph
 Eat coal soot
 Smell engine smoke
 

 Kachina

[ Home ] [ Travel Page ] [ Three Amigos June Visit ]
 
Go to Three Amigos Visit Main Page - June 2001 Visit
        Trip route to Taos
        Route To Chama, NM
        Train Route - Chama, NM to Antonito, CO
        Historical Overview
        Site Gallery - The Train Ride
        Site Gallery - The Spring Season
        For more information
Historic Overview of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad
The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad

The steam engine

The Steam Engine
The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is America's longest and highest narrow gauge railroad.

It is also one of our country's best preserved railroad museums, designated both a National and State Registered Historic Site and National Civil Engineering Landmark.

The 64-mile line is a remnant of the San Juan Extension of the narrow gauge part of the Denver & Rio Grand Railway (later to be known as the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad, or the "Rio Grande").

Narrow gauge (3 feet between the rails) was chosen instead of the more common standard gauge (4 feet 8 1/2 inches), so that the railroad could make tighter turns in the mountains and thereby reduce construction costs. Wishing to tap the booming mining districts in southwestern Colorado, the railroad headed west from Antonito in 1880. Crews surveyed, graded roadbed, and laid track through spectacular Toltec Gorge, over 10,015 foot Cumbres Pass, and down the 4 percent grade into Chama, where they arrived on December 31, 1880.

The coming of the railroad was a critical factor in the opening up of northern New Mexico and southwestern Colorado. The railroad was instrumental in developing the natural resources of the region, hauling mineral ore, timber, cattle, and sheep. The Rio Grande also carried passengers to and from the region. It even carried a first class parlor car on its daily passenger trains until ending passenger service in 1951.

The railroad had its ups and downs over the years. In 1893 the Silver Purchase Act was repealed and the federal government stopped purchasing silver. This brought a calamitous decline in the railroad's revenues. Subsequent economic booms and busts affected the railroad as well. Good times in the 1920s resulted in the purchase of "modem" engines (still in use today) and the rehabilitation of many freight cars. Except for a brief respite during World War II, the Rio Grande narrow gauge never recovered from the Great Depression, and most of the narrow gauge lines in the Rocky Mountains were scrapped during the 1950s.The discovery of oil and gas In the Four Comers area of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah in the early 1950s led to a revival of the San Juan Extension, and it was used to transport equipment into the region.

Very likely this single factor prevented the scrapping of the line. However, even that traffic died out in the mid-1960s and the Rio Grande was ready to abandon this line by 1967.

In the mountains
In the mountains
In July 1970, through the intervention of dedicated people, the states of New Mexico and Colorado purchased the most scenic portion of the San Juan Extension Chama to Antonito. Today the states administer the railroad through a bistate commission, which leases the railroad to a contract operator.
Site Gallery - The Train Ride
Carsonal National Forest Panorama (57Kb Image)
On the C&TSR On the C&TSR On the C&TSR
On the C&TSR On the C&TSR On the C&TSR
On the C&TSR On the C&TSR On the C&TSR
On the C&TSR On the C&TSR On the C&TSR
On the C&TSR On the C&TSR On the C&TSR
On the C&TSR On the C&TSR On the C&TSR
On the C&TSR On the C&TSR On the C&TSR
On the C&TSR On the C&TSR On the C&TSR
On the C&TSR On the C&TSR On the C&TSR
On the C&TSR On the C&TSR On the C&TSR
On the C&TSR On the C&TSR On the C&TSR
On the C&TSR On the C&TSR On the C&TSR
On the C&TSR On the C&TSR On the C&TSR
On the C&TSR On the C&TSR On the C&TSR
On the C&TSR On the C&TSR On the C&TSR
On the C&TSR On the C&TSR
Can you hear
the far-off
whistle blow?
Site Gallery - The Spring Season
Springtime Springtime Springtime
Springtime Springtime Springtime
All images in this gallery section are copyright
Friends of the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad

For More Information
Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad
Official Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad Site (ticket information)

Text source partially extracted from:
Historical Overview of the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad, Friends of the C&TSR, Inc.
[ Home ] [ Travel Page ] [ Three Amigos June Visit ]