Las Vegas, NM (LSV)
Backdrop to numerous western-themed movies and television shows, the Las Vegas depot anchors the town's historic Railroad District, which also includes La Castañeda, a former Harvey House.
Las Vegas Intermodal Center
500 Railroad Avenue at Lincoln
Las Vegas, NM 87701
Annual Station Ridership (FY 2020): 3,054
- Facility Ownership: City of Las Vegas
- Parking Lot Ownership: City of Las Vegas
- Platform Ownership: BNSF Railway
- Track Ownership: BNSF Railway
Amtrak stops at the Las Vegas Intermodal Center, which is housed in the second depot to serve the community. Built in 1899, the red brick depot replaced an 1881 wood-frame structure and was long an entry point for those seeking new opportunities in New Mexico and the burgeoning American Southwest. Designed by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway – commonly known as the “Santa Fe” – in the Spanish Mission style, the depot highlights the town’s origins as a Spanish pueblo.
As was typical at the time, and in line with social conventions, the depot was built with two waiting rooms – one for men and the other for women and children – that were separated from one another by the manager’s office and restrooms in the center of the building. A freight storeroom occupied the building’s southern end. The exterior features a hipped roof, a two-story cross gable and deep eaves – the last element especially important to combat the heat of the Southwest. A projecting bay indicated the location of the station manager’s office, as it allowed him to view trains in the distance and subsequently prepare the passengers and freight for boarding.
The Santa Fe staff architect who completed the depot adapted it to the local context by including a red tile roof and topping the manager’s bay with a remate – a gable finished with a curving, undulating edge – featuring an inlaid cross decoration. Like many Santa Fe-built stations in the Southwest, it has an outdoor waiting room marked by a large archway.
A $1.2 million depot rehabilitation was completed in 2003, with funds secured from various sources, including federal and state matching grants and private contributions. In addition to those hired to work on the project, a motion picture art department painted parts of the building when it was used for scenes in the 2000 movie, All the Pretty Horses. The station reopened as the Las Vegas Intermodal Center; in addition to a passenger waiting room, it also houses the city’s visitor center.
Established by a land grant from the Mexican government to a group of Spanish settlers in 1835, the community was named Señora de Los Dolores de Las Vegas, which translates to “Our Lady of Sorrows of the Meadows.” Popularly known as “Las Vegas,” it was constructed to mirror a traditional Spanish colony, with a central plaza and market surrounded by the town’s most important buildings. Las Vegas became a major stop for those traveling along the Santa Fe Trail during this time period. In 1846, Las Vegas and all of New Mexico were claimed for the United States in a speech delivered at the Las Vegas plaza during the Mexican-American War.
In late 1878, the Santa Fe Railway entered the New Mexico Territory, after a near-violent battle with the rival Denver and Rio Grande Railroad for control of the Raton Pass, the easiest access across the mountains that ran along the Colorado-New Mexico border. By summer of 1879, trains reached Las Vegas, spurring new growth – but east of the old plaza and on the other side of Gallinas Creek. This resulted in the creation of a “new town” meant to rival the older, established Las Vegas. The community prospered on sheep and cattle ranching, as well as wool shipping.
Just north of the intermodal center stands one of the town’s best-known landmarks: La Castañeda. Opened in early 1899, it was the first grand trackside “Harvey House,” a hotel and restaurant complex which took its name from Fred Harvey, an English immigrant. In the days before dining cars were common on trains, passengers had to detrain in order to eat a meal at a trackside restaurant. The food was generally of poor quality until Fred Harvey revolutionized and standardized the offerings starting in the 1870s.
For their new building in Las Vegas, the Santa Fe hired Los Angeles-based Frederic Louis Roehrig, an architect skilled in a revivalist architectural language that drew on regional history and tradition. With La Castañeda, Roehrig introduced what is considered the first Mission Revival building in New Mexico, at a cost of $110,000, a substantial investment by the Santa Fe.
The building is marked by a central tower, and two wings that project toward the railroad tracks help shape a central forecourt on what would have been the “front façade” that first appeared to rail travelers. A deep arcade wraps around the east and south elevations – toward the railroad and depot, respectively. Other Mission Revival detailing includes prominent full-story remates on each wing and the red tile roof.
A 51-seat lunchroom was the first space that meal-stop passengers would have reached, located in the south wing; those who favored the more formal dining room would have walked down the arcade to the far end of the landscaped forecourt. The north wing housed offices and the kitchens, which included large ovens that produced bread for other Fred Harvey restaurants along the line. Overnight guests would have proceeded to the lobby in southwestern corner of the building; there was also a shop where American Indian crafts could be purchased.
In its first year of operation, 1899, the hotel hosted then-New York State Governor Theodore Roosevelt, who came to Las Vegas for the first reunion of the “Rough Riders,” a voluntary cavalry he had helped organize to fight in Cuba during the Spanish-American War a year earlier.
Inspired by the success of La Castañeda, the Santa Fe and Fred Harvey would go on to build a series of trackside hotels in the Southwest. The buildings often adhered to fanciful designs that looked to the region’s American Indian and Spanish colonial past. Drawing on these traditions, the railroad and Fred Harvey created resorts replete with a bit of exoticism that drew tourists from across the United States and even abroad.
La Castañeda remained in business until 1948, when it was closed by the Santa Fe. Later sold by the railroad and threatened with demolition, the structure was saved in the 1950s when a new owner stepped in and converted it to apartments. From the 1970s onward, the building fell into disrepair as it experienced periods of vacancy and partial occupation.
In 2014 it was purchased by Allan Affeldt and Tina Mion, the owners of La Posada Hotel in Winslow, Ariz., another Harvey House that the couple restored in the late 1990s that also serves as an Amtrak stop. Affeldt and Mion embarked on a $5 million rehabilitation of La Castañeda that involved more than 50 local artisans. It reopened as a hotel and restaurant in 2019, once again a welcoming presence for those arriving by passenger train.
As La Castañeda testifies, Las Vegas maintains much of its cultural heritage and historical legacy. Each summer, the community celebrates its past, present and future during Heritage Week. It includes walking tours of historic sites, music and dance celebrations, an antiques market, family activities and an arts show.
In addition to Theodore Roosevelt, other notable people to have spent time in Las Vegas include Jesse James, Billy the Kid and Wyatt Earp.
Image: Amtrak/Marc Glucksman.
Station Building (with waiting room)
- Quik-Trak kiosks not available
- No ticket sales office
- Amtrak Express shipping not available
- No checked baggage service
- No checked baggage storage
- Bike boxes not available
- No baggage carts
- Ski bags not available
- Bag storage not available
- Shipping boxes not available
- No baggage assistance
- Same-day parking is available; fees may apply
- Overnight parking is available; fees may apply
- Accessible platform
- No restrooms
- No accessible ticket office
- Accessible waiting room
- No accessible water fountain
- Accessible same-day parking is available; fees may apply
- Accessible overnight parking is available; fees may apply
- No high platform
- No wheelchair
- Wheelchair lift available
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|Tue||10:00 am - 04:00 pm|
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|Thu||10:00 am - 04:00 pm|
|Fri||10:00 am - 04:00 pm|
|Sat||10:00 am - 04:00 pm|
|Sun||10:00 am - 04:00 pm|