DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado residents hankering to see the state in the days before automobiles and the Internet might find satisfaction in the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad.
The railroad, once integral to silver mining in the late 1800s, now ferries passengers from the San Juan Mountains to the Conejos Valley in southern Colorado.
John Bush, the president of the Cumbres & Toltec, spoke with CBS4 this weekend.
“This is an opportunity to see the authentic West as it was 130 years ago and to experience it the same way. It’s really an opportunity to step back in time and get off the grid,” Bush said.
The railroad’s season began Memorial Day weekend and runs through Oct. 19.
“If you enjoy sitting in traffic or standing in lines, then it’s probably not for you. But if you’d like Colorado the way it was before it got all full of people, this is the opportunity,” Bush said.
The Cumbres & Toltec route is popular with visitors from Russia, Europe and Asia, he said.
After its construction in 1880, the railroad became part of the San Juan Extension of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad. Its tracks ran from Denver through the Rockies to Silverton in southwestern Colorado and to Santa Fe, N.M. The decline of silver mining in the 1890s diminished the railroad’s role.
In 1969, the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad filed for abandonment, which means it no longer provides service along a specific route. But Colorado and New Mexico preserved many of the route’s scenic elements. The railroad was awarded a National Historic Landmark designation in 2013.
For full-day trips, prices range from $89 to $189 for adults, depending on the route, time of year and seat. Children 2-12 ride for free with a paying adult through Sept. 12. More fares and schedules can be found on the railroad’s website.
“It’s really the best preserved example of antique railroading in the country,” Bush said.