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Espanola, NM

The Espanola valley lies at the confluence of the Rio Grande and the Rio Chama. The town is known as the heart of Northern New Mexico and is a hub of activity surrounded by farms, ranches, and Los Alamos National Laboratories. 

In 1880 the railroad built its tracks into an area of scrub land located between historic Native American Pueblos along the Rio Grande and they called the place Espanola. At the time of initial construction the railroad intended to make Espanola the terminus of its railway from Alamosa. The following year a Roundhouse and Turntable were constructed to service the locomotives. But, in 1883 the plans changed and the railroad decided to extend the line into Santa Fe. Engine facilities were transferred to Alamosa. It did not look good for the town. Many merchants began to see Espanola as another failed railroad town and moved on. 

The Bond family saw beyond the railroad influence and began to raise cattle and sheep on the free range land the surrounded Espanola. Sheep were by far the most profitable and eventually the Bonds developed a system of profit sharing that allowed the local population to raise sheep in a sort of sharecropping arrangement. This system has grown until today most sheep raised in Northern New Mexico falls into the plan. Wool provided the stock for cultural trade items like rugs and blankets. 

Railroad revenues revolved around the sheep ranches and other agriculture in the region. Minimal passenger traffic and low shippments forced the railroad to close the line in 1941.

Soon after the railroad left town in early 1940's the Los Alamos National Laboratories were begun just 10 miles from Espanola. This influx of money was a culture changing boom to the area as Espanola began to develop into a supply center for the labs as well as providing other services and manpower. 

By 1960 the town had 2000 residents and today the population is over 9000 with more than 25,000 in the surrounding area.


Trackage in Espanola consisted of a passing siding with a turning wye and a couple of small loading spurs. Originally a large facility was planned with Roundhouse, Turntable, Water Tank, Depot and Section buildings. However when the railroad changed its intent for the town much of this became non-functional and was removed.

espanola yard 1919.gif (6704 bytes)
Espanola rail yard 1919



The Depot was first built from D&RG standard plans with a single rectangular structure of wood siding and shingle roof. This was your typical smaller Depot. Later a replacement Depot was built with vertical wooden board and batten covered by a shingle roof.




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