Monday, April 20, 2009

Railroads That Missed Us


The history of my area is a lot of things that might have happened. There was a lot of mining here but never the mother lode. Lots of ranching here but no easy way to get the cattle to market. Lots of outlaws here like Black Jack Ketchum and Bat Masterson but none of them died here. Just killed others here.

And for years when the mining and the ranching was going at full tilt there were talks of railroads to get ore to grinding mills and cattle to slaughter. The closest trains got were Ute Park to the East and the Denver and Rio Grande to the east. The spur connecting the two never materialized though there was a huge double wide tunnel built just 20 miles from here so the trains could make it through the Cimarron canyon.

The Texas cattlemen were heavily behind this train because it would allow them to ship their cattle up to greener summer pastures and back to winter feed lots with greater efficiency. That now happens with cattle trailers and semi-tractor rigs. In may we will see these caravans of trucks bringing in the yearling cattle to eat the grass here. And in October those cattle will vanish like the dreams of trains that never made it.

Gov. Richardson is now talking of using the old Denver and Rio Grande track bed to run the light rail Railrunner commuter train to Taos for those people that commute to Santa Fe and Los Alamos to work. And tourists that fly into Albuquerque for vacations in Taos. They took the track up in 1941 for the steel but the bed is still good. It just never went to Taos but to Tres Piedres instead. I suppose they have a plan for that.

All of Obama's talk about highspeed trains and a reliable track network has everyone here dreaming of trains again. There would be some good reasons to connect Taos to Raton where the Santa Fe Railroad runs but the trains have missed us before.

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