The D&RGW Chili Line Dulce, NM

by Bridget Harrington - Michael Moore June. 25, 2018 2725 views

The D&RGW (Denver & Rio Grande Western) railroad was a narrow gauge line that primarily moved coal and mineral traffic.

The Chili line, officially known as the Santa Fe branch, was a narrow-gauge branch of the D&RGW. It ran 125.6 miles from Antonito, CO, to Santa Fe, NM. The D&RGW began construction of the line in 1880 and completed the line from Antonito to Española, NM, but could not build any further because of an agreement with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad (AT&SF). The Texas, Santa Fe and Northern Railroad were incorporated to complete the line, and the line between Española and Santa Fe opened in 1886 and was transferred to the Denver and Rio Grande shortly thereafter.

The D&RGW closed the Chili line in 1941 because of competition from road transportation, and the line was abandoned shortly thereafter. The span of the bridge in Dulce across the Navajo River, with the slats from the rails still in place, still stands, as does the water tower.

There is a small picnic table, under a tree next to the river, so you can behold the bridge and surrounding scenery.

There is also a partly restored rail car from the line in downtown Dulce. You will pass it on the road if you travel to see the bridge.

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