It’s one thing to learn about a destination’s history. It’s another to ride into it. A ride on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is exactly that: a ride into history. Built in 1880, the narrow gauge Cumbres & Toltec line was part of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railway extension into the silver-rich San Juan Mountains. When the line was discontinued and marked to be scrapped, Colorado and New Mexico joined forces and stepped in to save this special piece of history. The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is the highest, longest and most complete example of a late 19th-century narrow gauge railroad remaining in the United States.
Today, visitors can board the old steam train in Chama, New Mexico for a historic ride to Antonito, Colorado. The scenic ride extends 64 miles winding in and out of Colorado and New Mexico 11 times along the way. It crosses the Cumbres Pass at an elevation of over 10,015 feet and travels through the Toltec Gorge. Give me the chance to jump on an old steam train to ride through picturesque landscapes and I’m a happy traveler. And on this particular railway the feeling is one of riding into the wild wild west—minus the train robberies.
Old steam locomotives evoke a nostalgic feeling that appeals to multiple generations. And when you learn that this train was ridden by the likes of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, it’s even more appealing. And it’s yet another way to experience the enchanting beauty of New Mexico. All aboard!
Terri Marshall is a New York City based freelance writer and editor for several publications. She specializes in multi-generational travel, road trips, and cultural travels for international and domestic destinations. You can find more about her work at www.trippingwithterri.com.