Sunday, April 6, 2014

Chama - The Oldest, Longest, Highest and Scenic Railroad


Chama
At the foot of the 10,000 ft Cumbres Pass, lies a small town of Chama in Mexico which is bordered by the Rio Grande and Santa Fe national forest, offering various outdoor adventure, the most popular being the ride on the vintage railway, one of the oldest railroad. Chama, a cute little hidden town is a setting for the Cumbres and Toltec Steam Train which is a 3 ft – 914 mm narrow gauge heritage railroad running between Chama, Antonito and Colorado.

It runs over 10,015 ft (3,053 m) Cumbres Pass, through Toltec Gorge from which it derives its name. The trains operate from both ends meeting at the midpoint and presently the railroad is the highest narrow gauge steam railroad in the United State. The Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad, a vintage steam locomotive driven excursion train leaves either from Antonito, Colorado or Chama and as one journeys through it they get an amazing experience of journeying through spectacular mountains, canyons and valleys.

It takes one to the highest elevation in America in rail and its narrow gauge train ride is the most beautiful setting for anyone travelling by train in the oldest, longest, highest and scenic in North America.

A Living History Museum


This railroad is a living history museum which was built in the late 1800s which travels in 3 feet wide narrow gauge where the trains are pulled by historic steam engines. Steam engines carried passengers as well as goods from one place to another before roads linked the towns of the Rocky Mountains.

The railroad has been designated both as a National and State Registered Historic Site as well as a National Civil Engineering Landmark. The trains depart every morning from Chama, New Mexico and Antonito, Colorado and in peak seasons, trains are available in both directions every day of the week, meeting at Osier, the midpoint of the line where lunch is available.

Passengers have the option to continue on their train journey to the end or switch trains to return to their original destination, again with the option of a motor coach return to their original terminal. Reservation needs to be done especially during peak seasons though in rare cases, at times seats are available for last minute travelers.

Parlor Car and Gondola

Passengers are provided with standard seats in the coaches or first class seats in a parlor car while gondola without seats is usually provided for first class and standard riders who would prefer to ride in the open air. Besides this, a concession car with provision of snacks and gifts, along with bathrooms on each train is also made available for the travelers.

All the passenger trains are pulled by historic steam locomotives which earlier worked on this line as well as the others of the Denver and Rio Grande Western, while heavy trains out of Chama may have two locomotives for Cumbres Pass.

The steepest part is the east bound from Chama and hence the steam engines tend to work hard giving out an acoustic and visual show and the balance ¾ of the east bound trips is downgrade with the locomotive being fairly quiet. Westbound from Antonito, the grade is comparatively less though the locomotive tends to work harder especially on the last few miles to Cumbres Pass.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds interesting. The rail track does look scenic and inviting. Thanks for the info.

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