SANTA FE, N.M. — Fixing the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad’s Lobato Trestle is turning out to be more time-consuming than railroad officials predicted last fall.
No surprise — any outdoor activity in the high country is at the mercy of the weather, and this spring has been particularly capricious. Only last week, it snowed here in el norte, making the task of hand-carrying 80-pound bags of cement up and down the slick ravine beneath the trestle simply miserable, and gandy-dancing across the icy rail 100 feet up downright dangerous.
Factor in a railroad version of “this old house” syndrome — you set about fixing one thing and find a new problem — and delays are a sure bet.
But crews are hard at work, pulling double shifts in recent weeks, and there’s hope the full train route will be open soon. Maybe very soon, maybe in the next week or so, although railroad officials were understandably reluctant to make predictions.
They did that two weeks ago, issuing a press release trumpeting reopening the trestle for the train season’s start on Memorial Day weekend. That made for double disappointment when grand opening day rolled around, and Chama passengers had to take the bus 11 miles northeast to bypass the trestle, just like they did for most of last season after fire gutted the structure.
It’s taken almost a full year, but it looks like Chama business owners soon can breathe a sigh of relief. The trestle will open again, the town’s depot will be teeming with tourists and so, too, the village streets.
Train passengers can look forward to the Cumbres & Toltec full monty — high passes, deep canyons, inaccessible countryside, Chama to Antonito, Colo. without interruption or omission. All aboard!