The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, originally built by the Denver and Rio Grande Railway in 1880, is a 64-mile, fully operational, steam-powered narrow gauge railroad running between Antonito, Colorado and Chama, New Mexico. A registered state and national historic site, the C&TS is one of America’s premier historic steam era railroads and is an invaluable living museum of railroad heritage and steam technology. The C&TS is also a tourist railway of international repute, and has been named one of the twenty best railway experiences in the world.
The C&TS is owned jointly by the states of Colorado and New Mexico through the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad Commission, an interstate agency authorized by Congress in 1974. The commission, through a private management company, operates the tourist railroad, which serves a vital economic development role in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. Responsibility for the museum function of this world class historic asset is delegated to the Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, Inc.
The Friends is a non-profit, tax-exempt membership organization dedicated to the historic preservation, restoration and interpretation of the C&TS as a living museum. The Friends’ stewardship responsibilities, shared with the commission, the railroad management company, and the communities within which the railroad operates, are accomplished in concert with the commission’s key role of operating this unique historical asset as a tourist railroad. Performance of the Friends’ museum responsibilities supports the important economic development role of the railroad in the region.
The Friends envisions another century of narrow gauge steam, with the C&TS being widely recognized as: 1) one of the world’s premier “living” museums for historic, steam railroad operation, preservation and interpretation and industrial heritage; and 2) one of the world’s best and most popular tourist steam railroad experiences. Responsibility for and leadership of the historic preservation and museum functions of the C&TS will rest with the Friends, to be known and respected internationally as the best non-profit, historic railway preservation/museum organization in the world.