Ride the Colorado Border

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Karenna Doctor writes, The Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad is a fascinating trip for everyone in the family.

The Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad is a fascinating trip for everyone in the family. You can board the train in Antonito, Colorado and Chama, New Mexico. The part that I rode on was the narrow gauge part of the Denver and Rio Grande Railway. 3 feet between the rails (narrow gauge) was chosen instead of 4 feet 8 inches (standard gauge). That way it could make tighter turns in the mountains. The railroad left Antonito in 1880 and arrived in Chama on December 31, 1880. It carried a first class parlor car until ending its passenger service in 1951. In July 1970 New Mexico and Colorado purchased the most scenic part of the San Juan Extension, Antonito to Chama. The train is a steam engine powered by coal heating water and making steam. You might get soot on your face and clothes. We stopped in Sublette and got water for the steam.You start out slow and steady when you board the train. After the first corner the scenery becomes quite beautiful. A fun thing to do on the train is walk around the train view everything from the viewing platform without a roof. There are cars on which you can sit on and enjoy the scenery, a viewing platform car, and a concession car. The concession car contains food such as cinnamon rolls, chips, breakfast burritos, candy bars and nuts. Beverages include coffee, V-8, and different types of soda.Make sure to bring your camera and extra batteries. Throughout the ride you will see valleys, rivers, plenty of trees, houses, old telegraph poles and wires, and switching stations.For lunch time you will stop at Osier. You have the choice of eating one of three entrees or soup and salad they all come with dessert. You will have about half an hour to eat and you will have to board the train again. You have a choice of going back to Antonito or riding the full length to Chama. We chose to go to Chama except the last trestle had been damaged by fire. So we got off the train at Lobato. Then we took a bus ride back to Antonito. Even though there were many turns and switchbacks, we couldn’t feel them so no one got motion sick.Many volunteers helped to restore and get the cars and buildings in working condition again. Volunteers are still important for maintaining the daily operations of this railroad. Visitors from around the world have come to see and ride the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad.