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Belen, New Mexico

By | October 19, 2020

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Pastoral Belen remained a New Mexico farming village after the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway pushed track down the Rio Grande River valley toward Texas and Mexico in 1880. Even Bronco Bill and Kid Johnson killing the sheriff and a deputy in a gunbattle after robbing a train south of town proved only a temporary sensation. Then the Belen Cutoff, the Santa Fe’s alternative to mountainous Raton Pass, opened in 1908, running 259 miles from Texas to El Paso Junction in Belen, plus 17 miles from Belen Junction to the California main line west of Albuquerque.

Between the junctions, the yard, station, and Harvey House fostered a lively cross-country rail center as the town touted itself as the Hub City. Premier passenger trains, however, remained on the scenic Raton route, although the San Francisco Chief and the southern section of the Grand Canyon Limited once called at Belen.

tracksideicon_photoTRAIN WATCHING

Rail Runner awaits its 5:51 p.m. departure for Albuquerque and Santa Fe as an eastbound BNSF train eases into the yard.
William P. Diven
tracksideicon_frequencyRADIO FREQUENCIES

BNSF Belen Operations, 160.860; Clovis Sub, 161.190; Gallup Sub, 160.650; El Paso Sub, 160.560; Rail Runner, 160.410.
tracksideicon_famFOR YOUR FAMILY

Fred Harvey and the Santa Fe helped make New Mexico the international, four-season tourist destination it is today. The Belen Harvey House Museum hosts events, exhibits, and occasional tours of the M-190, an articulated 1938 Santa Fe motorcar restored and reposing two blocks away in Doodlebug Park.

Narrow gauge steam trains operate in the region on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad and Durango & Silverton. Historic, cultural, and recreational sites and events also pepper the state.

WILLIAM P. DIVEN is an independent journalist and blogger from Placitas, N.M.

2 thoughts on “Belen, New Mexico

  1. As a kid growing up in Socorro about 45 miles south in the 60s, I used to take the train to Belen and wander around the yards watching freights and passenger trains. My favorites were the old and watch

  2. I will be in Albuquerque, Belen and north of ABQ next week to see semaphores and other RR related things. Anyone have any suggestions for specific spots to see? Is there a certain location you recommend to see Amtrak 3 & 4 with semaphores? Other suggestions? What about hobby shops? Or any model railroads to visit? I can be reached at or 310-344-9145. Thank you!

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