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Home arrowNews arrowEconomic Development Administration Receives Chairman's Preservation Award for Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad
Economic Development Administration Receives Chairman's Preservation Award for Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad

For more information, contact Bruce Milhans at (202) 606-8513 or

May 9, 2003, Washington, DC—John L. Nau, III, Chairman of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), today presented the Chairman's Award for Federal Achievement in Historic Preservation to the Economic Development Administration (EDA), U.S. Department of Commerce, for its vital role in saving a historic narrow gauge railroad in Colorado and New Mexico by helping fund track and railbed improvements.

"The EDA and its partners have preserved the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad (C&TSRR), saving a slice of the American saga of westward expansion and settlement that tells an epic tale about our nation's heritage," Nau said. "Once many such railroads covering thousands of miles stitched together the mining camps and newly born communities of the American frontier. Thanks to the partnership we recognize today, 64 irreplaceable miles of track, vintage locomotives, rolling stock, and associated buildings remain as vivid representatives of this historic era."

Several Economic Development Administration officials pose with the ACHP chairman after receiving the award

Recipients of the ACHP Chairman's Award for Federal Achievement in Historic Preservation include (from left): Anthony J. Preite, Denver Regional Director, Economic Development Administration; Jorge Ayala, Operations Manager, Austin Regional Office, Economic Development Administration; Brian Shoup, President and CEO, Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, Inc.; Steve Malnar, Commissioner, Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad Commission; David A. Sampson, Assistant Secretary for Economic Development, Department of Commerce; Kim Smith Flowers, General Manager, Rio Grande Railway Preservation Corporation; John L. Nau, III, Chairman, ACHP. (staff photo)

The presentation was made at today's quarterly ACHP meeting, held at the Old Post Office Building, 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Room M-09, beginning at 8:30 a.m.

The Chairman's Award for Historic Preservation, reflecting the goals of the Bush Administration's Preserve America initiative, is given to Federal agencies that exemplify leadership in building partnerships for sustainable historic preservation, particularly efforts that foster heritage tourism. EDA's non-Federal partners also being recognized by the award include:

  • States of New Mexico and Colorado, that together own the railroad and provided matching funds for the EDA grants;
  • Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad Commission, recipient of the EDA grants, is a congressionally authorized bi-state entity that governs and administers the railroad as a living history museum;
  • Rio Grande Railway Preservation Corporation, a non-profit corporation that operates the C&TSRR;
  • Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, Inc., a non-profit member-based organization whose volunteers help support, maintain, and interpret the railroad; and,
  • Colorado and New Mexico State Historic Preservation Officers (SHPOs) who reviewed both phases of the track and railbed improvement project under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA).

"I congratulate Secretary of Commerce Don Evans, Assistant Secretary for Economic Development David A. Sampson, and the team of dedicated professionals and volunteers who worked in a coordinated, creative, and innovative manner to preserve America's heritage," Nau said.

The C&TSRR with its structures, sites, and equipment dates from 1880 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It also is designated a National Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers. It is the highest and longest operating narrow gauge railroad in North America, crossing the New Mexico-Colorado border 11 times in its 64-mile route.

The grant request received favorable action in part because the project is located in two economically depressed counties, with per capita incomes averaging only about half the national rate and an unemployment rate that is double the national average. The C&TSRR is credited with attracting more than 50,000 annual visitors and generating about $6.5 million each year for the regional economy.

An independent federal agency, the ACHP promotes historic preservation nationally by providing a forum for influencing federal activities, programs, and policies that impact historic properties. It also advises the President and Congress about historic preservation matters, advocates preservation policy, protects historic properties, and educates stakeholders and the public. For more information, visit the ACHP's Web site at


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Posted May 16, 2003

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