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Courtesy Photo: New Mexico’s beloved conservationist Aldo Leopold and his wife Estella, walking the Chili Line Railroad.

Tracking the Chili Line Railroad to Santa Fe

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Presentation by author Michael Butler of his book, Tracking the Chili line Railroad to Santa Fe, on October 2 at 2:00pm at Kit Carson Boardroom in Taos.

The Taos County Historical Society announces its 2 pm October 2, 2021 program, Tracking the Chili Line Railroad to Santa Fe, by author Michael Butler. Published by America Through Time, the book is a guide to finding remnants of the railroad today and a pictorial history of the line forming the basis of Butler’s talk at the Kit Carson Electric Cooperative board room at 118 Cruz Alta Rd. in Taos. Admission is free to members of the Taos County Historical Society and a $5 donation is requested for non-members.


The Denver and Rio Grande Railroad operated the 125-mile long “Chili Line” from 1880 to 1943. The nickname was taken from the many chili ristras seen hanging from houses along the way. It was also said that upon pulling into the lunch stop at Embudo Station, the conductor would announce “chili stop!”


In addition to discussing the villages and railroad structures along the line, Butler will provide stories on colorful characters associated with the Chili Line, like artist Oscar Berninghaus and Aldo Leopold. Leopold, conservationist and first superintendent of northern New Mexico’s Carson National Forest in 1912, built a ranger cabin in Tres Piedras which still stands today. Berninghaus, later a member of the Taos Society of Artists, was strapped to the top of a boxcar to get a better view for his sketches that formed the advertising posters for the Chili Line!


Michael Butler is a retired administrator from the Denver Parks and Recreation Department. His books
include five titles published by Arcadia Publishing’s Images of American Series and one highlights High Road to Taos. He and his wife, artist Mary Jane Butler, have lived in New Mexico for five years, and now reside in Eldorado, outside of Santa Fe. Copies of the book Tracking the Chili Line Railroad to Santa Fe will be available for purchase from the author at the conclusion of the program.

The Taos County Historical Society is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to “preserving the irreplaceable.” Membership is open to anyone upon the payment of dues. Visit the Society’s website www.taoscountyhistoricalsociety.org for additional information.

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