Interior Secretary Ken Salazar Designates the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad a National Historic Landmark



Interior Secretary Ken Salazar Designates the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad a National Historic Landmark

 Contact: Tim Tennant (505) 880-1311

Peter R. Foster: (970) 259-7411

Chama, NM and Antonito, CO – October 18, 2012 – The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, along with the Commissioners and the Friends of the C&TSRR, are pleased to announce the designation of the railroad as a National Historic Landmark (NHL) by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.  The NHL program was established in 1935 and is administered by the National Park Service on behalf of the Secretary of the Interior.  The Friends of the C&TSRR, Inc. had a large role in this effort.

Historically known as the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad’s San Juan Extension, the railroad was built in 1880 and is today known and operated as the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad (C&TSRR).  It is the most outstanding and best-known example of its kind in North America.  The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad joins twenty newly designated sites to the comprehensive list of over 2,500 other sites in the National Historic Landmark program.

Peter R. Foster, Chairman of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad Commission stated, “This is a fine day for the railroad indeed.  This prestigious award by the National Park Service recognizes all the hard work by good people to keep the railroad up and running with exemplary stewardship and preservation of the historic asset.”

Attracting over 40,000 passengers annually, the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad operates as a 64-mile scenic railroad between the towns of Antonito, Colorado and Chama, New Mexico.  It is the longest and most complete example of late nineteenth-early twentieth century railroading in the nation, complete with track, buildings, structures, freight and passenger equipment, and steam locomotives from that era.  The Cumbres & Toltec is an outstanding representation of the original 1,000-mile Denver & Rio Grande narrow gauge railroad network that opened the Central Rocky Mountain region for development.  Historic tourism remains the most viable industry in the area.  The existence of the C&TSRR is critical to not only the historic tourism industry but also the overall economic health of the impoverished region.

“Not only will the NHL designation officially recognize the nationally significant historic values of the C&TSRR, designation will greatly enhance avenues through which the C&TSRR can secure support directed at projects to ensure this national treasure is preserved and operated for generations to come,” stated Tim Tennant, President & CEO of the Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, Inc.

An Economic Driver – The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is a nationally significant historic treasure, which continues to serve as an economic driver and cultural centerpiece in the otherwise economically depressed region.  During the past four decades of operation as a tourist harbor, a significant base for tourism has been developed in this rural region that had previously relied upon declining agricultural and extraction industries.

Likewise, the railroad today exhibits physical and cultural integrity and continuity found rarely in any kind of landscape, system, built environment, or heritage resource.  This is largely due to the circumstances responsible for the preservation of the railroad, and the manner in which it has been operated over the last 40 years as the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad.  As the Denver & Rio Grande did for roughly 88 years, the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad today offers a regularly scheduled program of steam locomotive-hauled passenger trains operating between terminals at Antonito, Colorado and Chama, New Mexico contributing to the lively-hood of the local economies.

The 64-mile narrow gauge railroad is an operating steam railroad that has been in continuous service for nearly 130 years making it a key destination for historic rail riders.  Even within the context of comparable properties, the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is an exceptional railroad cultural resource with an unparalleled combination of original fabric, original form and footprint, number of contributing features, intensity of operations, range of historic equipment and structures, continuity, and authenticity of operating practices and workplace culture.  The long-term survival of the C&TSRR depends on finding new ways to tell its story and enhance its attractiveness.  Being part of the elite list of National Landmarks will take the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad to the next level. and