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George R.R. Martin buys the historic Santa Fe Southern Railway with two other partners

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Most of us may not remember when exactly we lost interest in the toys that we wanted to preserve throughout our life. The toys that formed the basis of our existence after school and friends. A distinct item in that stack used to be a train set. Some tracks that you had to assemble, a locomotive and a few cars, and some add-ons to put around the railway tracks. Our beloved American author George R.R. Martin, now 71-year-old, believes it’s “a deep-buried case of Train Lust” from his childhood that prompted him to buy the defunct Santa Fe Southern Railroad along with partners, Catherine Oppenheimer and Bill Banowsky. Read on to find out more.

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The Santa Fe Southern Railway is an 18.1-mile spur line between New Mexico’s capital, Santa Fe, and the depot of Lamy, a village-town in New Mexico. It starts from just behind Martin’s movie theatre Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe. The three partners came together due to shared interest and closeness to the Santa Fe Railyard; which they bought through a joint venture called Santa Fe and Lamy Railroad Partners LLC. Catherine Oppenheimer, an arts philanthropist, has co-founded the New Mexico School for the Arts while Bill Banowsky owns the Violet Crown Cinema. But more than everything, it’s Martin’s child-like enthusiasm about being able to sit in the engine car and blow the whistle that catches our eye. “Even though I’m an old guy, I’m a 13-year-old inside,” he told the Albuquerque Journal.

Regularly scheduled passenger services stopped on the rail-line in 2014. It has since been used for private events and the odd shoot for movies or TV. The trio of Martin, Oppenheimer, and Banowsky has had to push hard to arrive at this fruitful outcome of ownership. The process started in June 2019 with buying a mortgage on the real estate. And it finished with acquiring close to 89% shares of the railroad and the Santa Fe Southern; along with ten train cars and two locomotives. The Lamy depot falls on the route of the Amtrak Southwest Chief train between Chicago and Los Angeles. Amtrak’s lease on Lamy ends soon, and thus, the trio would be able to operate the train track hassle-free.

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Although it would require some significant work, time, and money to revive it, Martin and his partners have some elegant plans for the train line. GRRM plans on using the Lamy depot in the expansion of film and TV production; as his non-profit group Stagecoach Foundation is committed to doing in New Mexico. “A Wild West sound stage”, “a backlot”, and the use of the train in film productions are a few of his thoughts. “It was already used in Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid,” he said.

All three of them feel that the railroad and the Lamy depot could become a fun community experience for the locals and the tourists. “There are a lot of opportunities for a new tourist attraction. COVID has thrown a monkey wrench into our plan. We had hoped to get things up and running in 2021, but now it won’t be until 2022,” GRRM said. The author also wrote on his Not a Blog regarding their plans; “We have all sorts of fun ideas for the future: live music and murder mysteries and train robberies (actors playing bandits) and escape rooms and…well, we shall see.”

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He calls the murder mystery event “Murder on the Lamy Express”. “We don’t want this to be a shabby railroad on its last legs. We want this to be a real jewel,” he concluded. It seems like George “Railroad” Martin would invent a good amount of fantasy fiction for this exciting new project. And we certainly aren’t complaining. We wish the train-trio the best of luck! Moreover, we hope The Winds of Winter is on the tracks too. Since we want it to be an enthralling ride through the penultimate station of A Song of Ice and Fire saga, we are ready to wait for it!

So, what are your thoughts about this? Tell us in the comments section below.

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