The Rio Grande Scenic Railroad begins in Alamosa, CO and travels on historic tracks over La Veta Pass that were completed on June 22, 1878. Alamosa was quickly put on the map by this narrow gauge rail supplying ore, lumber, cattle, sheep and farm products to the developing valley and in turn, shipping out agricultural and mining products. From 1890 to 1950, Alamosa hummed day and night with the activity of both passenger and freight trains from Denver, Durango, Santa Fe, Salida and Creede. After the 1950s, the track was used exclusively for freight until becoming part of Premier Rail Collection in 2006.
Passengers can again experience excursion trains on rails that curve and wind through steep rocky grade and mountain meadows with elk, eagles and bears cohabiting the land. Weekends in the summer are home to Mountain Rails Live, a concert series like no other. Musicians and passengers alike are transported to Fir Summit, the concert venue only accessible by rail. Special events hosted aboard the train are a must-see, including the popular Rails and Ales event each June.
Rio Grande Scenic Railroad is now home to passenger cars and locomotives that span the country and the decades. The heavyweight open window cars from the Southern Railroad come from as far back as the roaring 20’s. They include the iconic “Lookout Mountain,” an open-air car giving passengers an unparalleled view of the passing scenery. On the contrast, the “C-1” cars are enclosed and air conditioned and were built for the Long Island Railroad in New York state. The “Cambridge Inn” car is a converted sleeping car from 1949 from the mighty Pennsylvania Railroad and the “Sunset View” built in 1954 is a full-length Vista dome car from Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. The legendary “Mardi Gras” was originally built as a coach but was re-built by after World War II into a luxury round end observation club car, bar included. It is believed that Steve Goodman wrote the much-beloved song “City of New Orleans” while aboard this car riding on its namesake train.
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