Saturday, May 29, 2010

Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Hits 40, Offers Discounts

This Memorial Day weekend typically signals the opening day for a lot of tourist and scenic railroads. The Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad has been settling in for a week already and has a number of events scheduled for this year. Along with the kids' Cinder Bear Express and the Wild West Trains, the C&TS is also planning celebrations of its 40th Anniversary of operations between their main facilities in Chama, New Mexico and their station at Antonito, Colorado. It looks like they are ready for this summer!

First, however, the railroad bid farewell to one of its board mebers. Nan Clark passed away May 6th after heart by-pass surgery. The railroad bade her farewell with a wreath and a long, mournful whistle for the first train of the 2010 season.

(Feedreaders, watch the Nan Clark tribute here)

As part of the 40th anniversary, the C&TS is offering some special deals. First off, if you were born in 1970, the same year the railroad was, you get 40% off coach class. If you got married in 1970 (before the ruffled shirts--yuck!) and have held on for 40 years to each other, you and your spouse can get the same deal of 40% off coach class. The deal  is only available by calling 1-888-286-2737, and you will have to present your ID to claim your birthday benefit. Other restrictions apply. I think they have a similar discount for riders born when the D&RGW was. Your discount should be 140%, and I'm sure they would ask for proof of birth in 1870.

There are other discounts offered this year:
  • This weekend (today and tomorrow, but not Memorial Day), they're giving 10% discounts to veterans. 
  • The Fourth of July weekend (July 2 - 5), servicemen and women with a military ID receive 10% off as well. If it were up to me, the discount I would give for either vets or our military would be much larger, but I'm not the one running their books. As it is, it's barely worth mentioning! 
  • Early Bird discounts are available if you book in advance for trains now through June 18th. Other restrictions apply. Call 866-361-4911 to book tickets.
  • Father's Day weekend, June 18 - 20th, Dads ride free with an accompanying family member.
  • As usual, there is the season pass option. Priced at $300 for coach and $400 for Tourist Class, these passes give you 10 trips in a season (If you use every trip, you'd average $30 and $40 per trip). There's also a multiple user pass, which allows for up to 10 riders an opportunity to ride at a reasonable rate. These passes are only applicable to coach class seating (except the Tourist pass) on regular trains. Upgrades may be purchased. Details are here.
As someone born in 1973, I feel a little put out that I missed the discount by a mere 3 years. Still, a ride aboard the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic in 1980 absolutely sealed my love for trains, and narrow gauge steam in particular. The tickets were a bit cheaper then, but so were the amenities! Most notably, the box cars--with plastic seats!--that the C&TS were using back then brought a suitable feel for me and my hobo kit bag. Words cannot truly express the excitement that a boy can feel about riding a train!

Steve Walden (7) ready to board the C&TS for the first ride in 1980
I still remember practically melting in that open gondola while my dad took pictures. The beauty of Toltec Gorge was not lost on me, but the sun beat down mercilessly and the need for water made me miserable! Getting to Osier was an oasis! I had never had such sweet relief, even if we ate in a outdoor picnic area. By the end of the day, I was exhausted but even a day or two later, I wanted to go back! I was bitten by the railroad bug, because every night in my cabin, I thought I heard train whistles in the night, even though the engines were in the shed for the day. It didn't matter to a steam fevered brain like mine. I couldn't wait until next time!

Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad online reservations

2010 C&TS Rates
Parlor Car$149----

Note: Another post should follow soon on a very special program the C&TS is running. If you have an able body, you may just get to fulfill a fantasy.

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