Train Trip to New Mexico

With all of the excitement about the Union Pacific steam engine coming through Cape, it was good timing to stumble onto my train ticket going from Cape to Philmont Scout Ranch in Raton, N.M., in 1962.

Service club sent us to Philmont

One of Cape’s service clubs sent three Scouts to Philmont for a Junior Leader Instructor Training Course (JLIT). I wish I could remember which club it was, because it was one of the greatest experiences of my young life. I’ll be sure to find out by the time I write up the whole trip.

Classmates Bill Hardwick and Martin Dubs were the other two Scouts.

In the Things Never Change Department, note the Missourian headline above our photo.

People traveled by train

A cross-country trip by train wasn’t unusual in those days.

A train trip from Cape to Chaffee was a rite of passage for kindergarten classes at Trinity Lutheran School.

I hopped a train from Cape to Peoria for a photo conference in the late 60s. I went back and forth between Cape and Athens the first year I was at Ohio University. Unfortunately, the railroads were doing everything they could to discourage passenger travel, so they arranged it so you’d have a day layover in Cincinnati, making it impractical. The inconvenience and student standby rates offered by airlines ended my train travel.

Round trip ticket cost $63.86

It looks like we were on the Frisco, Missouri Pacific and Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe rail lines to get there and back. The carbon is a little hard to read, but it looks like the round trip cost $63.86. Another stub showed that we paid 50 cents for a “Special Service Charge for Reserved Coach Seat.”

Filet Mignon cost $3.50

The menu shows that a bacon-wrapped, 8-oz. Filet Mignon with a baked potato, chef’s salad, hot bread, green peas and a drink cost $3.50. I was probably put out by that extravagant price because I could get a filet with fries and a salad at Wayne’s Grill for $1.25. Darned gougers.

I’m pretty sure the cook cars still used wood stoves on this run.

Strip sirloin was $3.95

The special might have been a better deal: a 12-oz. charcoal-broiled strip sirloin steak with baked potato, fresh green beans, tossed salad, hot biscuits and a drink for $3.95.




8 Replies to “Train Trip to New Mexico”

  1. Ken, the same service club sent me and two other scouts to JLIT at Philmont in 1964,and mine was also a great experience, except I got to view EVERY small-town bus stop thanks to the Greyhound Bus Line. The Cape Rotary Club was to thank for my trip.

    1. Tim,

      I’m glad we went by train instead of the Big Gray Dog.

      I’m sure we had lots of whistle stops, but they couldn’t be anything like going by bus.

      It was quite an adventure.

  2. While Cape Boy Scouts made the annual Summer trip West to Philmont, another, co-ed group joined their Midwestern contemporaries at St. Louis Union Station for the 4 pm departure on the night run to Denver aboard the Colorado Eagle in three reserved heavy-weight Pullmans.

    While not quite a debauch, it was close, and a heck of a way to start a summer away from the parents. The memories of the trip and subsequent days at camp caused several Centralites to migrate to the Rockies for college and career.

  3. Your memories stir up many of my own…My father and brother both attended Philmont….as well as Cheley! Yes, we took the train from St. Louis to Denver. We were on the Mo Pac, though. It was glorious waking up and looking west hoping for our first glimpse of the mountains. I am one of those Cape folks who made Colorado my home. After being a camper and a counselor, I never looked back.

    1. The name of the Mo PAC train was The Colorado Eagle leaving St. Louis at 4pm arriving Dencer Co at 9 am. Conductors reported that few slept in the upper berths of the Cheley cars.

  4. Thanks for the great article… went to Philmont twice in the ’70’s…am in the Wabash RR Historical society and the Burlington one as well. I edit a newsletter for a local model railroad club in Warrenton, MO.

    My pastor is from Cape originally and sent this my way…I got to get some photos of 844 west of Washington and at Labadie, MO and a buddy got several up around Atchison,KS as it headed back to Cheyenne…

    I too took a 3rd grade train trip from Lee’s Summit to the Kansas City zoo as a “field trip” in school like you mentioned….Looks like you too have some
    memorabilia… thank you very much…


  5. WOW my husband, hometown van meter iowa also went to philmont, just 10 years earlier then this one occured . he had such fond memories.

  6. Ken, I went to Philmont in 1971. I think David also went that year, because it seems that I have a picture of him somewhere in my scout photos. We rode Greyhound out and back. Our tip out we stayed on an air force base in Kansas somewhere (I remember renting golf clubs and getting 9 holes in). It was a fabulous trip and an unforgettable experience.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *