CONEJOS COUNTY— A new project in Conejos County has been added to the list of San Luis Valley Enterprise Zone Contribution Projects following approval recently by the Colorado Economic Development Commission.
The project is the restoration of Engine 168 and five 19th century rail cars by the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad in Antonito. Together, the historic engine and cars will make a complete train of original Denver and Rio Grande Railway equipment and will add significantly to the scenic railroad’s interpretation of Colorado history soon after statehood in 1876.
Designation as an Enterprise Zone Contribution Project will enable donors to the project to receive a 25 percent income tax credit from the State of Colorado. Contribution Projects aim to focus community engagement on an economic issue or opportunity to a targeted economic development goal.
A partnership between the City of Colorado Springs and the Cumbers and Toltec Scenic Railroad made the project possible. Colorado Springs owns Engine 168, which had been on display in a city park since 1938, and has leased the engine to the railroad under a long-term lease. A special facility has been built in Antonito to accommodate the restoration work on the engine and cars.
The Engine 168 and Historic Car Project has an overall budget of $1.6 million and is expected to be completed in the next five years. Three full-time jobs have been added to the railroad in Antonito for the project.
As a new heritage tourism attraction, the railroad estimates the project will increase annual ridership by 3,000 and add almost $400,000 in ticket sales. A 2014 economic study concluded that the Cumbres and Toltec Railroad has an economic impact of $14.8 million to the region.
Contributions to the Engine 168 and Historic Car Project may be sent to Tracy Gallegos, Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, PO Box 1057, Chama, NM 87520, or online at http://cumbrestoltec.com/about-us-2/168-2/. For more information about the project, you may contact Tracy Gallegos at 575-219-3306.
The Engine 168 and Historic Car Project is now one of 35 San Luis Valley Enterprise Zone Contribution Projects administered by the San Luis Valley Development Resources Group.
For more information about the San Luis Valley Enterprise Zone, contact Kevin Wilkins at 719-589-6099, or go to https://www.slvdrg.org/slv-enterprise-zone/