The human history of the Rio Chama Valley is rich with tales of struggle, innovation, and survival. Indigenous peoples of the Southwest have inhabited the Valley for at least 1, years, making this area one of the richest regions for archeology in the U. In , Camp Plummer was established near the present-day town of Tierra Amarilla. With protection from raiding Utes, European settlers expanded their influence in the region. About this time, the little village of Chama was about to make history. Railroad service to Chama began in February , and the old station at the Santa Fe terminus is now the aforementioned Tomasita's restaurant.
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Today, this history is there for all to see and taste. In addition to the wonderful food and cultural activities, the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad is the finest and most spectacular example of a steam-era mountain railroad in North America. The railroad's equipment and the vast landscapes of the Colorado-New Mexico border exist as if they were frozen in the first half of the 20th century.
Built years ago, the Cumbres is a mile, fully operational steam railroad. In the fall, the route provides beautiful views of changing aspen as the train wends its way across the mountainous terrain. We elected to take a motor coach from Chama to Antonito, Colorado, and then take the train downhill back to Chama. What a ride!
The old train, chugged, swayed, and clacked its way down the mountain, at one point reaching a breathtaking top speed of 19 mph. The coal-fired s Baldwin steam engine just chugged away, never missing a beat. There are only three of these locomotives that still run, and the Cumbres has two of them.
One of the coolest things about this old line is that several of the valleys it runs above are accessible only by train or "unimproved" dirt roads.
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Another neat thing is that it really is a mountain railroad that hugs the tops of canyons and valleys as it chugs its way to Chama. We spent two delightful days in this cool mountain town before the road again called.
So we packed the Vette and headed out, our route to be established as we went. Somehow we wound up going through Gunnison, Alamosa, and back to Antonito. More gorgeous views and serpentine roads greeted us, and the C6's six-speed, paddle-shift automatic made for thrilling driving along the way.
At Tres Piedras, we cut onto U. The site is popular with whitewater rafters, thanks to the fast-moving currents and breathtaking scenery. We used to call this area the "Winnebago Rapids," in honor of the hapless visitor who forgot to set his brakes and watched his Winnie go over the side of the bridge and plunge into the river below. From the bridge, we took the short drive into Taos and stopped at Michael's, an outstanding place to eat with a world-class bakery.
If you're a Louis L'Amour fan, then Mora should ring a bell.
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It was the home of the Sackett clan, whose members starred in many a shoot-'em-up. Located at more than 7, feet, Mora is still a quiet little village and a great place to visit. From here, we headed to Las Vegas, New Mexico, for a good night's sleep. We were starting to get homesick at this point and decided to wrap up our road trip by heading for Sumner—near Clovis, New Mexico—and then home. Our C6 had run like a champ the whole way, pulling an average fuel economy of Unfortunately, the combination of regular rain and windblown desert grit meant the car was also was positively filthy before we even started back through Texas.
Fort Sumner's mission was the internment of Navajo and Mescalero Apache Indians from through The fort was closed in , then sold to a prominent New Mexico landowner. In , the man's son befriended legendary outlaw William H. Bonney, aka Billy the Kid.
It was in this house that the Kid was reportedly killed by Pat Garrett, and his body is said to be buried in the old military cemetery at the fort. Its mission includes infiltration, exfiltration, and resupply of special-operations forces; air refueling of special-ops rotary-wing and tilt-rotor aircraft; and precision fire support.
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There are lots of smart, interesting normal people out there, and from them you learn that the best thing in life is to follow the straight and narrow, observe social conventions, work a steady job, and avoid extremes. That is from Faze. Alex Tabarrok Email Alex Follow atabarrok. Tyler Cowen Email Tyler Follow tylercowen.