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Director films New Mexico trains, railroads for PBS show

Robert C. Van Camp films the Cumbres and Toltec train in northern New Mexico.

Robert C. Van Camp films the Cumbres and Toltec train in northern New Mexico.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Robert C. Van Camp is a train enthusiast – and that’s putting it lightly.

Van Camp is the producer/director of “Trains Around North America,” which showcases train routes across North America.

One of Van Camp’s favorites is the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad in northern New Mexico.


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“I’ll never forget the first time I saw it,” he says. “My sister lives in Los Alamos and I decided to venture out to Cumbres (Pass). This was back in 1995. I saw all these original buildings and rolling stock. Then to learn the story of how it has been saved and more than 2,500 volunteers are part of saving the area.”

Van Camp says he doesn’t know of another railroad where this happens.

“People come in from all over the world to help maintain this area,” he says. “It’s a very special place.”

Van Camp has been working on the show for 20 years and has filmed a show for New Mexico PBS and it will air at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 12.

Van Camp will be back later this spring to film another segment on New Mexico.

“It’s one of my favorite places,” he says. “Trains are so fascinating.”

Van Camp says preserving the history of railroads is important. He says as more options for transportation emerge, the steam trains of North America have become more appreciated by those who board them.

“Families, history buffs are drawn to them,” he says. “It’s a chance for you to get a glimpse of what life was like back then. Yes, the trains move slower but it was also a much more simple way of living. Sometimes we have to step back and take them in.”


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Van Camp says “Trains Around North America,” explores the impact the rails have had in building our world and why millions of people continue to use them.

Highlights from the series include footage of the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad in Alamosa, Colo., as passengers enjoy a meal in the luxury dome car, or enjoy the breeze that blows through the open-air car.

“We’ve been able to see some amazing places in the first two decades,” he says. “I can’t wait to experience what’s to come from the show.”

Van Camp says what he loves about the series is the common passion for trains.

“We get on a plane and our generation has no idea of what it’s like to be on a train,” he says. “You get on a train and you use all of your five senses. It’s a piece of history and you get to see the routes that were taken during the westward expansion of this country.”

Van Camp says the East Coast was built around an industrial revolution, and the rest of the country was connected by train.

“Another great thing is that you don’t know where stories will lead,” he says. “It’s a gamble to chase a story and see what turns up.”

The documentary “Rising From Ashes” is about the cycling team in Rwanda.

The documentary “Rising From Ashes” is about the cycling team in Rwanda.

SEE THIS DOC! The award-winning feature-length documentary about cycling organization Team Rwanda titled, “Rising From Ashes,” will premiere at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 12 in Los Alamos.

“Rising From Ashes” is a joyous and uplifting independent film about the development of a national cycling team in Rwanda, a country still affected deeply by the genocide that tore the East African nation apart in 1994. The documentary tells a story of redemption, hope and second chances. It is not about the bike; however, the bicycle becomes a tool that has helped change a nation.

Two worlds collide when cycling legend Jacques “Jock” Boyer moves to Rwanda in 2006 to help a group of struggling survivors of the genocide to pursue their dream of creating a national cycling team. Members of the fledgling team were children left orphaned by the genocide a decade earlier. Their pasts are painful. As they set out against impossible odds, both Boyer and the team find new purpose as they rise from the ashes of their pasts.

Advance tickets are $11 and can be purchased online at Tickets at the door will be $15. The Reel Deal Movie Theater is located at 2551 Central Ave. in Los Alamos.

SEND ME YOUR TIPS: If you know of a movie filming in the state, or are curious about one, email Follow me on Twitter @agomezART.