PaLace of the governors photo Archives
blow, particularly if voters approved a bond issue to have a proposed spur line built across the Basin from the depot planned at Lamy, 18 miles southeast of town. By mid-1879, the ATSF had crested Raton Peak and was on its way into central New Mexico. While it was finally clear that the railroad wasn’t coming to Santa Fe, it was also clear that the only hope of progressives in the business community was, indeed, the spur line. On Oct. 4, 1879, by votes of 191 to 72 and 192 to 67, Santa Fe property owners approved two separate bond proposals, in the amounts of $79,000 and $71,000, to pay the railroad to build the spur. The vote was decided along city-county lines, with city voters approving the measures by 191 and 192 votes and county voters rejecting them 54 to 10 on each proposal. The Santa Fe Depot was eventually built, despite claims of profiteering on the parts of property owners in the Guadalupe district, and the spur line was constructed between December 1979 and January 1880; in February, that first small train came chuffing into the new station. By the following spring the depot was surrounded by a water tank, windmill, coal house, and engine house. Today, the spur—which didn’t have a name until the Santa Fe Southern Railway established its sightseeing rides in 1992—still terminates at that Mission-style depot on Guadalupe Street. The railway carries passengers out of the now and into the then: in rolling stock decked out in 1920s-style grandeur, passengers are hauled amid the high-desert beauty between Santa Fe and the small village of Lamy, which is reminiscent of the area’s Wild West past. In addition to sightseers, the train still also carries freight to serve the Santa Fe community. As Southern officials note, the railway is often one of the few things (and sometimes the only thing) visitors know about Santa Fe before arriving here. And while the ATSF no longer exists—it merged with Burlington Northern in 1995—the storied line still remains in spirit. Its famous logo marks the cars that run along the spur, for example. The Santa Fe Southern offers a variety of rides for families, romantic couples, nostalgia buffs, and just about anyone who loves a clickety-clack
train ride along vintage cars, either coach or luxury. The standard journey to Lamy and back, which is offered on Saturdays year-round and also on Fridays beginning in April, takes about four hours, roughly one hour each way with a layover in the village. During the layover, you can purchase lunch from a concessionaire and walk under ancient cottonwoods along the peaceful grounds of the Lamy depot, where you may also see Amtrak trains heading east or west. Fall and winter specials include caroling trips and storybook rides (kids wear their PJs) in mid-December, as well as other family-friendly outings around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. On Sundays throughout the year and also on Wednesdays beginning in May, the Southern offers the shorter Hotshot ride, which, rather than going all the way to Lamy, instead travels 16 miles to the Galisteo Basin overlook where you can take in the stunning panoramic view. Following a short stopover (passengers don’t de-board), the train heads back to Santa Fe, with the caboose “shoving” the cars backwards all the way home—just like in 1880. For more on the Santa Fe Southern Railway, to make reservations, or to buy memorabilia and other items, visit thetraininsantafe.com.
Top: a family waits at the Lamy depot ca. 1915; bottom: an Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe train travels through New Mexico ca. 1913; opposite page: workers stand with an ATSF freight car that was used as both a cookhouse and living quarters ca. 1895. december 2011 /january 2012
Published on Nov 10, 2011