Lamy New Mexico is 18 miles south of the state capital of Santa Fe. The Santa Fe originally planned to run from Atchison, Kan., to Santa Fe, N.M., and then west to California. As the track building advanced into New Mexico, the civil engineers realized that the terrain around Santa Fe made this an impossible undertaking. The line was built through Lamy instead, and a spur line was built northward to Santa Fe. Amtrak passengers headed to the state capital still alight at Lamy where a shuttle transports them the remaining 18 miles.
The one story Lamy depot was built for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (commonly known as the “Santa Fe”) and opened to passengers in 1909. It replaced a two-story wood frame structure erected in 1881. When the new passenger station opened, the original was converted into a freight depot and served this purpose into the 1940s.
In the early 20th century, the Santa Fe Railway replaced many of its original wood passenger structures, which had been constructed quickly and at low cost, with more substantial brick depots that symbolized the permanence of the railroad. Like many other communities along the Santa Fe lines in the Southwest and California, Lamy gained a new building that drew on regional architectural traditions.
The Spanish Mission style, featuring shady arcades, red tile roofs and stucco-clad walls, drew on the region’s Spanish colonial past to provide the railroad with a cohesive visual identity. It also became an effective marketing tool to lure residents and tourists from the East and Midwest. Constructed of brick covered in stucco, the Lamy depot features a waiting room outfitted with carved wooden beams, handsome wood benches in a Spanish Revival style and colorful decorative tiles. Common to many depots in the region, it has a covered, outdoor waiting room on the east end and a track side arcade.
An original tower over the ticket office was later removed, while a small freight room was added to the building’s west end in 1941. Its function is evident by the placement of small windows high on the wall that admit light but deter thieves, as well as the large wooden doors that allowed station personnel to roll in carts stacked with boxes and crates.
Lamy’s original name was Galisteo Junction. It was later changed in honor of Jean-Baptiste Lamy, who served as the first archbishop of Santa Fe in the second half of the 19th century. Lamy played a major role in the development of the region and was the inspiration for writer Willa Cather’s novel Death Comes for the Archbishop.
East of the depot, the famed Fred Harvey Company constructed a hotel named El Ortiz in 1910. Started by English immigrant Fred Harvey in the 1870s, the company that took his name ran a series of eating houses along the Santa Fe rail lines. Dining cars were not yet common west of the Mississippi River; thus, passenger trains stopped at set stations to allow riders to have a bite to eat. Fred Harvey developed a highly efficient system that guaranteed quick, quality meals.
El Ortiz closed in 1942 and was later demolished.
The growth of the railroad industry bolstered development in Lamy, but as the industry declined, so too did the need for railroad workers – thereby leading to a shrinking population. Today, Lamy is a lovely small village set against mountains.
Amtrak provides ticketing and baggage services at this facility, which is served by the Southwest Chief.