Ride This 127-Year Old Steam Train Right Here In New Mexico For An Unforgettable Experience
The tiny town of Chama, New Mexico is home to a big piece of American history; here lies the last stop of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. The railway, which runs between Antonito, Colorado and Chama, New Mexico, was constructed in 1880 and once served as a means of transportation for mining operations in the San Juan mountains.
In the 1950’s, the decline of the mines threatened closure, but an oil discovery nearby helped maintain operation through the 1960’s; however, by the end of the decade, abandonment nearly left this railway to fade into history. The states of Colorado and New Mexico swooped in to save the day by purchasing the tracks in 1970 and restoring the incredible steam engines that rode the rails. This historic treasure was added as a National Historic Landmark in 2012.
So what makes this old train so special? The 64-mile-long incredibly narrow tracks, which are only 3 feet wide, are now both the highest and longest narrow-gauge railway left in America. The engines that operate here (now solely as a historic attraction for visitors to ride) are some of the last true steam engines in existence. While modern trains run on diesel and electricity, the Cumbres & Toltec trains are powered entirely by steam, which requires the train engineers to shovel almost four tons of coal each day to keep the engines moving!
This video, shot and shared by Great Big Story on YouTube, gives you a quick history and a tempting taste for what you will find when riding this amazing railway.
These incredible historic relics are open to the public for passenger rides during the summer and fall, and the route through northern New Mexico and southern Colorado offers some of the most stunning natural scenery in the area. Though the views will leave you in awe, this is definitely not a “thrill ride” – with a top speed of 20 miles per hour, you will have plenty of time to relax and enjoy the ride!
Tickets for this historic ride can be purchased on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railway website. With fares starting $99 for adults and $49 for kids, it’s not a cheap excursion, but it’s absolutely worth every penny. This full-day round trip ride between Chama, NM and Antonito, CO begins at 10:00 a.m. and returns around 5:00 p.m. and this truly is an unforgettable, one-of-a-kind experience!
For more amazing stories like this one, visit the Great Big Story YouTube channel! You will find hundreds of videos featuring wonderful people, places, and stories from around the world!