Colfax to York Canyon

The York Canyon Branch

Picture Point of Interest

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Looking northwest from the US Route 64 grade crossing, the line is seen heading to York Canyon. It is evident that the line was only recently abandoned. Photo by Mike Palmer, May 2009.

This abandoned railway line runs through a sparsely populated area of northern New Mexico, and was used to access coal mines along York Canyon. The coal mines closed during the 1990s, leaving no customers along the line.

At Colfax, the York Canyon Branch is still in irregular use, as it is currently used for car storage. The line branches from the mainline at French, NM; the tracks around the area are also used for car storage.

Also at Colfax, this line crosses the also-abandoned line bewteen Koehler Junction and Ute Park.

According to CTC Board/Railroads Illustrated, the stored cars on this line were removed in October 2009. This line, along with the BNSF line from Albuquerque to the state line near Raton, were sold to the state of New Mexico.

Mike Palmer
Torrance, CA


There is a nice DVD from Pentrex which has some footage of coal trains running on this branch before the mines shut down. The coal was contracted from a power plant in Wisconsin, I think. The previous comment is correct. The line from Albuquerque (and maybe even from Belen) is owned by the State of New Mexico. The "Roadrunner" commuter train runs from Belen to Santa Fe on the former BNSF line. The line from Belen to Raton, sees only two Amtrak trains a day and a couple of BNSF manifest trains from La Junta, CO to Barstow, CA twice a day, mostly at night.

Paul Noble
Edgewood, NM


I read that this mine closing down is now causing serious issues for the Amtrak Southwest Chief. Since the mines closed down, the only user of the tracks between Lamy, NM and Newton, KS is the Amtrak Southwest Chief. BNSF stopped all freight over Raton Pass, Southern Colorado, and Western Kansas. Now, Amtrak and the states must find financing to keep the Amtrak Southwest Chief running or more could be abandoned.

San Diego, CA


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