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Scenic railroad opens for season

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The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad kicked off its 43rd season with simultaneous festive ceremonies at both the Chama and the Antonito, Colo., depots on May 24. KZRM Radio and 96.1 FM broadcasted live from the Chama depot. The celebrations were free and open to the public.
Dignitaries boarded the trains for a 10 a.m. departure.
The railroad was recently designated a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service.
Ed Beaudette, Manager of Engineering and Operational Planning for the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, welcomed the group of dignitaries and the public to the Opening Day Ceremony in Chama. Father Scott McKee, of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Chama, blessed the railroad. Raymond Tafoya, a Medicine Man of the Jicarilla Apache Nation, Dulce, performed a sacred blessing of the railroad, and there was drumming and dancing by the Butterfly Dancers from Dulce. The Master of Ceremonies was Clyde Vicente, Director of the Jicarilla Apache Cultural Center. The Chama Color Guard, headed by Paul Edwards, raised the U.S. and New Mexico flags. Jewell Maestas and Jessica Casados sang the National Anthem, and the famed DJ El Norteño from the Chama Valley played a mixture of all sorts of regional music.
John Bush, President of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad will welcome the group of dignitaries and the public in Antonito. The raising of the U.S. and Colorado flags was led by VFW Commander Joe Chavez, of Antonito. Father Sergio Robles, of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, blessed the railroad.
There was also a First Annual Steam Train Festival and Car Show in the C&TSRR parking lot. The Bishops 10 Band performed the National Anthem, and played music before and after the ceremony. The celebration will concluded with a San Luis Valley Southwest–style dance by the Semillas de la Tierra, a folklórico troupe that performed traditional dances of Mexico in traditional costume.
Built in 1880 and little changed since then, the C&TSRR is the finest, most spectacular example of steam-era mountain railroading in North America.
The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is the highest narrow-gauge steam railroad in the U.S. In its 64-mile route between Chama and Antonito, the train crosses the New Mexico–Colorado state line 11 times, traversing some of the most beautiful and remote areas in the southern Rocky Mountains, including the 10,015-foot Cumbres Pass and the 800-foot-deep Toltec Gorge, from both of which the railroad takes its name.
The train winds through tunnels and over trestles, and snakes along the Toltec Gorge past waterfalls, mountain forests and alpine meadows. All trains stop at the historic ghost town of Osier for lunch and dessert. Professional, friendly, well-informed railroaders run all Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad excursions. They are available to answer questions about the historic train. The historic narrow-gauge railroad is used by many hikers, bikers and fly fishermen to access some of the most beautiful parts of Colorado and New Mexico. The season pass allows them to hop on and off the trains to enjoy hiking, camping and fishing.
Trains depart daily at 10 a.m. from both Chama and Antonito through Oct. 19. The round trip is completed by a scenic one-hour drive by deluxe motor coach before or after the rail excursion. Shorter trips are also available. Adult Pass: $170. Child Pass: $90, ages 2–12.
To make advanced reservations for the daily excursions, call 888-286-2737, or visit cumbrestoltec.com.