AFTER YEARS OF BACKBREAKING LABOR to lay railroad tracks over Ratón Pass and across the high plains, on July 4, 1879, two locomotives arrived in Las Vegas on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. Decorated with the U.S. and Mexican flags, they officially opened rail service to what was then the largest city in the New Mexico territory. Soon a full-service rail hub, Las Vegas witnessed a population boom. Residents enjoyed innovations in public utilities, but also endured an uptick in outlaws, gamblers, and swindlers. The civilizing hand of Fred Harvey arrived in 1898 with construction of the Castañeda Hotel on the rail line. The Queen of Harvey’s eventual string of hotels across the West, it later suffered when train travel withered, but has risen anew, carefully restored with gracious rooms, a popular bar, and a top-notch chef.