Tourists from all over the country come to the small towns of Chama, New Mexico, and Antonito, Colorado, to ride the 140-year-old narrow gauge Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railway through the Rocky Mountains.
The railroad track between Chama and Antonito was built in 1880 as part of the San Juan Extension of the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad. The railroad was founded by Gen. William J.
Palmer, who envisioned a railroad line from Denver through El Paso, Texas, that terminated in Mexico.
With the discovery of gold and silver in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado, Palmer changed his focus to building a rail line known as the “San Juan Extension” to reach these remote areas.
In Colorado, the line ran from Walsenburg to Alamosa then down into Chama then back into Colorado to Durango and Silverton. The rail line was an engineering marvel of its time, climbing over steep passes and down into deep gorges.
The train runs daily through Oct. 24 out of both Chama and Antonito. This time of year the railroad adds extra cars to accommodate tourists enjoying the fall colors.
On a recent weekday two locomotives were used to pull 368 passengers through golden aspens to the top of Cumbres Pass at over 10,000 feet.