A historic train ride in New Mexico promises unique adventures for travelers

The Santa Fe Southern Railroad may have stopped offering train travel in 2012, but the trains are once again running under a different ownership – and the trains definitely have to be seen to be believed.

The revival is due to the work of novelist and screenwriter George RR Martin, as well as his colleagues in Santa Fe, New Mexico, entrepreneurs and artists, including author Douglas Preston, the co-founder of the National Institute of Dance of New Mexico Catherine Oppenheimer, artist Gary Oakley and Bill Banowsky, who owns Violet Crown Cinema in the Santa Fe Railyard.

Working together, they formed Sky Railway in 2020. The trains, which offer what are called “adventure and entertainment journeys”, began operating their new routes last month.

“We need to be bold, wild and exciting, with something different up our sleeve,” said George RR Martin, head of creative development team. “In the long term, we have to try things that other railways would never dare to try.”

A new start

When the Atchison’s successor, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway announced it was closing the spur in 1991, the Santa Fe Southern Railway was formed to purchase the right-of-way as well as the buildings and equipment necessary for the operation. It then ran passenger trains to nearby Lamy until 2012.

Martin and his partners acquired the railroad in 2020 and quickly got to work “restoring and refurbishing the cars, repairing the tracks and trestles, replacing old seats, repairing broken windows, even installing a new one. engine in one of our old locomotives,” recalls Martin. .

“We had two big, old diesel locomotives, so we immediately decided to run two trains: the wolf and the dragon,” Martin explains. “And to paint them and give each its own character and a look unlike any other train in the country, we hired Jorael Numina of Santa Fe, an incredibly talented muralist and graffiti artist.”

An adventure, not just a ride

The 18 mile trip from Santa Fe to Lamy takes about 75 minutes. While travelers can certainly look out of train windows en route, that’s not the point of a journey on Sky Railway.

Consider, for example, the “Sunset Serenade”, which begins on January 12. On this trip, travelers are invited to “Let us soothe your day while you enjoy our relaxing 1.5 hour train, sipping on unique cocktails, while being pampered by our first class attendants” , explains Sky Railway.

Then there’s “Lore of the Land,” a 4-hour journey that starts running January 15.

“Bring your family on a unique journey through the history of New Mexico and the Santa Fe Southern Railroad. Let us take you back in time with stories about the land and the rails told by our knowledgeable guides from the New Mexico Historical Society,” says Sky Railway. “Or listen to Native American storytellers share stories about the earth, the sky, and their relationship to the land passed down through the ages.”

You can learn more about these adventures, including how to purchase tickets, here.

A look into the future

Martin explains that Sky Railway also plans to launch several bigger and more extravagant journeys.

“We anticipate murder and mayhem on some of our trains, and unless Hercule Poirot buys a ticket, passengers will have to solve the mysteries themselves,” says Martin. “Some of our trains may well be robbed as there are outlaw gangs near Lamy. You can also expect ghosts and zombies next Halloween, and maybe even a hanging.

Indeed, Sky Railway has already announced that it will start operating its “Wild West Express” later this year. The trip should take about 4 hours.

“Mysteriously travel back in time as you and your family ride the rails to the historic town of Lamy. Keep your eyes peeled and your six shots at the ready as Billy the Kid rescues you and your fellow travelers from the notorious Lamy Gang,” says Sky Railway. “Thrilling action, chases, and shootouts put you and your family right in the middle of the action in this true plains adventure.”

And as Martin noted, Sky Railway will soon start offering its 3-hour “Murder on the Lamy Line” as well.

“Grab your detective hat and magnifying glass! Someone has been murdered and it’s up to you and your fellow travelers to find the culprit,” notes Sky Railways. “This police excursion into the dark and mysterious basin of Galisteo is sure to bring the detective out of you!”

You can find out more about these rail adventures, including how to buy tickets, here.

Know before you go

If you are planning a trip on Sky Railway trains, keep in mind that Sky Railway follows all Centers for Disease Control guidelines and adheres to all Federal Railroad Administration and Transportation Security Administration protocols and guidelines.

Anyone traveling on Sky Railway must show proof of vaccination against COVID-19, if eligible, before boarding. Masks will be required on trains except when actively drinking and eating.

If you love luxury train travel, also read

Comments are closed.