HISTORY OF THE RIO GRANDE SCENIC RAILROAD
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 thanks to 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.
Today, you can experience excursion trains on rails that curve and wind through steep rocky grades and mountain meadows that are home to elk, eagles, and bears. During weekends in the summer, we host Mountain Rails Live, a concert series like no other. Musicians and passengers alike are transported to Fir Summit, a concert venue only accessible by rail. You don’t want to miss our special events hosted aboard the train, including the popular Rails & Ales Brewfest each June.
Rio Grande Scenic Railroad is now home to passenger cars and locomotives whose origins span the country and the decades. The heavyweight open-window cars from the Southern Railroad come from as far back as the roaring 20s. They include the iconic Lookout Mountain, an open-air car giving passengers an unparalleled view of the passing scenery. In 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. 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 after World War II, it was re-built 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.