Southwest Chief Travelogue
We were interested in riding the train before the government pulls the
on long haul pax service, and started monitoring the Amtrak web site for
We boarded the Southwest Chief (CHI-LAX) at Albuquerque, NM (ABQ)
to Trinidad, CO (TRI) in mid September, 2002. We took sub sandwiches on
board with us for lunch. September is a bit early for fall foilage
in New Mexico, but otherwise we enjoyed a great ride. There are many
narrow cuts through the mountains where the rocks seem to be only inches
away from the window! Climbing the mountain past Lamey, NM, one can
both the front and back of the train at once on some of the S curves, if
seated in the middle of the train. Lamey features an old railcar near
depot which appears to have been converted into a residence, but is
on a siding.
We stayed overnite in Trinidad, which is a turn of the century mining
that has been in decline, but is being restored in some areas, including
pleasant, though small, riverwalk. There are lots of interesting old
buildings on the main streets, be sure to bring a camera! There is a
McDonalds near the Amtrak depot for those who favor the known quantity
a brand name secures, but we observed a number of interesting looking
"Cowboy Cafes" downtown. We did not eat dine in Trinidad, though, since
had dinner on the train just before arrival. The dining car is a bit
pricey, but one of those novel experiences we wanted to enjoy.
There appear to be no "Motel 6" type budget accomodations in Trinidad,
we had to pony up $50 at a Best Western Inn, plus 11% tax, for the
stay. On the plus side, they did have an enclosed hot tub to soak in. We
walked from the depot to the Best Western, a distance of nearly a mile.
personal thanks to the developer of those little suitcases with the
wheels, although one does garner a few odd looks strolling down main
pulling a suitcase behind. A taxicab service is available, according to
sticker on the door of the depot, for those not inclined to exercise.
Someone (perhaps the Santa Fe RR maintenance crew?) opens the small
room in the depot for the train, but there was no attendent on duty. We
returned to ABQ the following day.
We were able to prepurchase RailSale tickets for only $16.40 per seat
way, and the times were good for sitting in the lounge car and enjoying
view. This train departed ABQ on time at about 12:30 PM and arrived at
on time at 6:30 PM. On the return trip, the train was on time, (10:30)
TRI, and a bit early to ABQ (4:40 PM).
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