Railroads in New Mexico

The narrow gauge railway line connecting Santa Fe to northern railways

The Chile Line (Chili Line)

The Chile Line

During the spread of railroads in New Mexico, the geography around Santa Fe made it impractical to drive a main line through the city itself. Even the famous Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, "the Santa Fe", came no closer than Lamy, 18 miles away.

While a spur line from Lamy to Santa Fe was eventually constructed, there was still a need to connect Santa Fe to the railways to the north. Jurisdiction conflict with the AT&SF meant that the Denver & Rio Grande Railway could only build as far south as Espanola, 35 miles from Santa Fe. The Texas, Santa Fe & Northern Railroad Company was created to build a narrow gauge line to fill the gap.

Officially called the Santa Fe Branch but widely nicknamed "The Chile Line" for the ristras hanging on the houses along the line, the railway (later reorganized as the Santa Fe Southern Railway) ran between 1887 and 1941, connecting Santa Fe with the Denver & Rio Grande line to the north. 


The Rio Grande Modeling and Historical Society out of Colorado Springs is
"dedicated to preserving and disseminating the historical record
of the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad and its predecessors,
and to the encouragement of accurate scale modeling of those railroads."
Their website has resources about the railroad and its equipment,
including advertisements for the line.

Rio Grande Modeling & Historical Society website



Books on the Chile Line - The Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad in its various incarnations: