This Tour Includes Rides/Visits To The Following:
In the second half of the 19th century, the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe (AT&SF) began making it’s way into New Mexico. The plan was to lay track into Santa Fe and then south. At the time, those brave enough to embark on the perilous trip across country traveled by wagon train, horse and buggy by way of the famous Santa Fe Trail.
In 1880, the first AT&SF train cars steamed into the Territorial Capitol (a “territory” until 1912 when New Mexico became the 47th state). But not the way AT&SF had envisioned. Primarily because of the steep grades and highly mountainous terrain, the main line could not actually be brought into Santa Fe. Fearful of their commercial center being bypassed altogether, the town citizens of Santa Fe, including Bishop Lamy, spearheaded the building of an 18-mile spur from Galisteo Junction (later re-named Lamy) north to Santa Fe. The rails reached Santa Fe on February 9, 1880, and regular service began on February 16. Santa Fe was now in direct touch with the rest of the country and the world.
This service connected at Lamy with the Chicago-to-Los Angeles and -San Francisco trains, which meant travelers could visit Santa Fe and then continue on to their destinations. Today that cross country route is part of the Amtrak system. Lamy is served by the twice daily Southwest Chief. The East bound South West Chief arrives during this Lamy daytrip.
Amtrak link: www.amtrak.com/southwest-chief-train
A sleepy village eighteen miles south of Santa Fe, Lamy was once a boom town thanks to the AT&SF trains. The Lamy depot was built in 1880 and has undergone numerous alterations, the most visible of which was its Mission-style re-vamp in 1909 to match its sister Depot in Santa Fe and to boldly proclaim to visitors that they had indeed arrived in the West.
The restaurant just across from the Lamy Depot is on the National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1881 shortly after the AT&SF mainline came through the town, it was originally a saloon and brothel, then became a general store for 27 years. Again a saloon in the 1950s, it became a successful restaurant known as The Legal Tender in 1969. The Legal Tender building also houses The Lamy Railroad and History Museum, dedicated to acquisition, preservation, display and interpretation of the history of New Mexico, the village of Lamy, and the Southwest with particular emphasis on the Railroads and their impact on the area.
Lamy train pulling into the station. March 2012
Shortly after the turn of the last century, famous hotelier/restaurateur Fred Harvey built a small but luxurious hotel in Lamy, the El Ortiz, to house and feed passengers wishing to spend time in the area. The El Ortiz was demolished in the late 1940s due to declining rail travel, but those wishing to visit one of the few surviving Harvey can visit La Fonda Hotel in the heart of Santa Fe’s historic Plaza district and the Harvey House in Belen. Both are part of other Rail Runner Tours that you can find on this website.
Lamy Museum: http://lamymuseum.org/lamymuseum.html
Legal Tender Saloon: www.thelegaltender.com/