George R.R. Martin Helps Buy Historic Railroad, Plans to Reopen It

The railway dates back to 1880 but closed in 2012

Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin
George R.R. Martin at Castle Ward which acted as Winterfell Castle in HBO’s "Game of Thrones."
Liam McBurney/PA Images via Getty Images

Fantasy author George R.R. Martin has a penchant for history. His series A Song of Ice and Fire, on which HBO’s Game of Thrones is based, is partly inspired by the 15th century War of the Roses; in his hometown of Santa Fe, New Mexico, he bought and renovated the 126-seat Jean Cocteau Cinema; and now, he’s getting into the historic American tradition of building railroads.

Martin, along with two other investors, has purchased the Santa Fe Southern Railroad with hopes of reviving the 140-year-old railway, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported. While it is only a spur line over 18 miles of track, which ran from Santa Fe to the town of Lamy until it closed in 2012, the purchase includes about 20 train cars dating back to the 1920s and will reportedly cost millions to resuscitate. 

The New Mexican interviewed Catherine Oppenheimer — co-founder of the National Dance Institute of New Mexico and one of the three investors, along with Martin and Violet Crown cinema owner Bill Banowsky — who explained the impetus for the project: “There’s something about train travel that brings you back to a time that we assume was a simpler, more community-based time, long before the internet, before air travel, even before television.”

“Plans not only include repairing the track and bridges between Santa Fe and Lamy, where a small depot still awaits passengers on the Amtrak line that travels from Chicago to Los Angeles and back, but to provide an array of entertaining arts and cultural events on train excursions to Lamy and at nearby stops,” wrote the New Mexican.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a wrench into the plans, which were on the fastrack, the group said they hope to have the train running by 2022.

Need travel plans to look forward to? Put Santa Fe in your calendar two years from now.

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