Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad named National Historic Landmark


Staff Writer

One of the newest national historical landmarks is partially in Archuleta County — the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad San Juan Extension of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad.

The designation was announced in an Aug. 8 letter from J. Paul Loether, chief of the National Register of Historic Places and the National Historic Landmarks Program that was sent to Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners Chairman Clifford Lucero.

“We are delighted to enroll the Denver & Rio Grand Railroad San Juan Extension (Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad) in Conejos and Archuleta Counties, Colorado, and Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, as a National Historic Landmark — a designation that reflects the recognition of this property as an irreplaceable part of our nation’s heritage,” the letter states.

The letter also states the history of the historic landmarks program and process for designating a landmark.

“The Historic Sites Act of 1935 authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to identify and recognize nationally significant places that best represent the American experience. Landmark designation recognizes and encourages the preservation of places that have exceptional value for commemorating or illustrating the history of the United States, for the inspiration and benefit of all Americans,” the letter states.

The letter further states that the Secretary of the Interior designates sites after study and a public process, recommendation by the National Park System Advisory Board, and in accordance with set criterium.

Of the benefits of the designation, the letter states, “National Historic Landmarks are listed in the National Register of Historic Places, making them eligible for the safeguards and benefits provided by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 and other federal laws protecting historic properties.”