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Santa Fe Southern Railway, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe Southern Railway

Finally, the Departure time arrived and I dashed back to the station for the 6:30 pm departure of the High-Desert Highball on the SFSR.

When I arrived about 6:00, the parking lot was jammed, and at the station I could see many well-dressed young ladies and gentlemen.  The young ladies were dressed for more than a vintage train ride!




The younger folks boarded the rear two coaches and the flatcar at mid-train.



The riders in our section of the train were obviously not high school age!

The Plaza Lamy Dome Car



SF502 spent time in the Super Chief Consist in the 1950s.

Dome level seating

Main Lounge (below the dome)

The original "Turquoise Room" was being enjoyed by Brian Fox and Jennifer Werner of Boston and Kym Fox of Santa Fe.


Bar at the end of the  Main Lounge

Janice Convery has prepared a three-fold brochure for Santa Fe Southern Railway entitled:

The Plaza Lamy:  Ode to An American Legend

I found a copy next to the steps to the dome.  It explains the history of the car with original pictures, explaining, "Our Plaza Lamy (SF502) was one of the six Pullman 500-series 'Pleasure Dome' cars ever featured on the beloved Super Chief consist" and further details.


The prom particpants from The Desert Academy, a private school in Santa Fe, were soon onboard and we were off on our excursion.  They had the two last cars and access to the flatcar.  Vicki had mentioned that SFSR hosts school groups (which I observed during the afternoon) and this school's prom fell into the 'school' category so they received a discount.

Amy Miller, Middle School Director, has suggested the train for the prom and had not gotten an enthusiastic response...until the last couple of weeks before this date, when the idea really caught on.

Dr. Charles Ray Griffin, Head of School, was with the prom group with his son, Luke.  At the end of the journey I asked him for a comment,  "It was great. Three hours and no one got off the train!  A great success!"


Vicki introduced me to Charles Bensinger before we departed.  Charles is with Renewable Energy partners of New Mexico ( ) and was observing SFSR's first use of his Biofuel on this trip. 

Charles produces fuel for SFSR's diesels that is 20% bio-fuel and 80% diesel.  This is the first RR in New Mexico to use it and there are plans to use it in school busses and light rail.  His Biofuel is made from a soybean base.  This is an exciting step in reducing particulates where they most need to be reduced, around schools, cities, and for users of public transportation.  His website proudly announces,

In April, Santa Fe drivers prevented 48 tons of fossil carbon dioxide (CO2) from entering the atmosphere by filling up with biofuels."

Also onboard were Chester and Joyce Robins (left) and Roy Berbert from Greenville, North Carolina, who obviously were enjoying themselves!


Hershell Adams was security for the prom and found it an unusual, but enjoyable, assignment.

Natalie, onboard SFSR staffer, knew the history and current operations.  She said the mix of freight and passenger revenue was about half and half, with the bulk of the freight being building materials and Budweiser.  SFSR moves Budweiser product, delivered to Lamy from its manufacturing point in Fort Collins, CO, to Premier, NM,  its final distribution point by truck to many western states.

She said the track was laid in 1880 by Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe and there was a narrow gauge, "Chili Line," that used to extend north from Santa Fe and eventually trains could connect through to Denver.  However, that track has been taken up, but you can see the right of way as you travel north to Taos.

This trip was about 32 miles round trip from Santa Fe toward Lamy.  Lamy is 18 miles south of Santa Fe.  Lamy is 6400 feet and Santa Fe is about 7000 ft.  Natalie explained that the name "Santa Fe" originally came from the Santa Fe Trail, and the main line never originally went to Santa Fe.  The Santa Fe Trail was a trade route from the Southwest to Kansas, as was the Pecos Trail, also in this area.

Lamy had a Harvey House and the Santa Fe Southern Railway took passengers on to Santa Fe, and they then took land transportation on to Taos.  Quite an ordeal in 1880.


In the 1950s this car was restored,

Westin, white shirt, informed  those in the "Central Railroad of New Jersey" car that it had been a commuter car in 1922.  It had 'walk over' seat backs so passengers could always face forward.


As the sun began to set, we felt like 'Riders of the Purple Sage.'



We watched the sun set and began our darkened trip, in reverse, back to Santa Fe.

Announcing our arrival at crossings after dark, was the caboose, with light and horn!  A aged cab car?

When we returned to the darkened depot in Santa Fe, and the youngsters were safely on their way home after their unique and memorable 


I was surely glad I'd come here and taken advantage of one of the Santa Fe Southern's ...


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