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Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad kicks off 44th season with festivities

Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad
Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad
Elizabeth R. Rose

It's train ride time in New Mexico and Colorado. The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad kicks off its 43rd season with simultaneous festive ceremonies at both the Chama and the Antonito depots on Saturday, May 24, at 8 a.m. The celebrations are free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served, and there will be music at both depots. Both ceremonies will last until 9:30 a.m., at which time dignitaries will board the trains for a 10 a.m. departure. The public can also ride the train and is encourage to make advanced reservations as there will be a big crowd.

In Antonito, Colorado, there will also be the First Annual Steam Train Fest & Car Show, in the C&TSRR parking lot. The Bishops 10 Band will perform the National Anthem, and play music before and after the ceremony. The celebration will conclude with a San Luis Valley Southwest–style dance by the Semillas de la Tierra, a folklórico troupe that performs traditional dances of Mexico in traditional costume.

In Chama, New Mexico Father Scott McKee, of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, will bless the railroad. Raymond Tafoya, a Medicine Man of the Jicarilla Apache Nation, Dulce, N.M., will perform a sacred blessing of the railroad, and there will be drumming and dancing by the Butterfly Dancers from Dulce. The Master of Ceremonies will be Clyde Vicente, Director of the Jicarilla Apache Cultural Center. The Chama Color Guard, headed by Paul Edwards, will raise the U.S. and New Mexico flags. Jewell Maestas and Jessica Casados will sing the National Anthem, and the famed DJ El Norteño from the Chama Valley who will be playing a mixture of all sorts of regional music.

The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is loved by historians, rail fans, and riders as an important part of the history of the American West, and for the authentic experience it provides. Built in 1880 and little changed since then, the C&TSRR is the finest, most spectacular example of steam-era mountain railroading in North America.

The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is the highest narrow-gauge steam railroad in the U.S. In its 64-mile route between Chama and Antonito, the train crosses the New Mexico–Colorado state line 11 times, traversing some of the most beautiful and remote areas in the southern Rocky Mountains, including the 10,015-foot Cumbres Pass and the 800-foot-deep Toltec Gorge, from both of which the railroad takes its name.

The train winds through tunnels and over trestles, and snakes along the Toltec Gorge past waterfalls, mountain forests, and alpine meadows. All trains stop at the historic ghost town of Osier for a hot homemade lunch that includes freshly made desserts. Professional, friendly, well-informed railroaders run all Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad excursions. They are enthusiastic and available to answer questions about the historic train.

The historic narrow-gauge railroad is used by many hikers, bikers, and fly fishermen to access some of the most beautiful parts of Colorado and New Mexico. The season pass allows them to hop on and off the trains to enjoy hiking, camping, and fishing.

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Information courtesy: Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad

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