The Williams Tour Part 6 — Cloudcroft, Mexican Canyon, and back to El Paso

Burro Street Exchange, Cloudcroft

Burro Street Exchange, Cloudcroft

On Monday I gave you a little of the Lincoln-area history, with an emphasis on the infamous — Billy the Kid.  Today we’ll take a look at history more closely associated with Cloudcroft.  At 8,668 feet/2,642 meters above sea level, Cloudcroft is one of the highest villages in the United States.  As with many Old West towns, the railroad is what built Cloudcroft and it’s the timber that brought the railroad to this lofty locale.  In the late 1890s the El Paso and Northeaster Railroad reached Togaggan Canyon just outside present day Cloudcroft, and by 1900 Cloudcroft — “Pasture in the Clouds” — was born with the completion of a train depot.

"Cloud Climbing Railroad"

“Cloud Climbing Railroad”

This section of the rail was called the Cloud-Climbing Railroad because the trains frequently entered into dense fog on the trek to and from Cloudcroft.  It was far from a safe journey, however.  The Cloud-Climbing Railroad climbed and descended along a steep 5.2% grade that navigated some 330 curves, and the rails ran over 122 box bridges and 58 timber-framed trestles.  The tallest trestle, towering 60 feet/18 meters above the terrain, was over Mexican Canyon.  The Mexican Canyon Trestle also spanned some 323 feet/98 meters.  How dangerous was this trip?  As former train engineer Tom Shorten so eloquently put it, ““Well, if I go too slow the logs jump off, and if I go too fast the cars jump off.”

Mexican Canyon Trestle — Built in 1899

Mexican Canyon Trestle — Built in 1899

While timber may have brought the railroads, it was El Pasoans and other nearby desert dwellers seeking to escape the summertime desert heat that helped to sustain it for many decades.  The average high temperature in Cloudcroft during June and July is 73.5°F/23.1°C (June) and 71.2°F/21.8°C (July).  At night those average temperatures plunge to a refreshing 44.2°F/6.8C (June) and 47.3°F/8.5C (July).  Tourism became a major factor for Cloudcroft’s economy, and still is to this day.  But by 1938 roads and automobiles brought an end to passenger rail service, and the Cloud-Climbing Railroad closed for good by 1948.

After snapping some pictures of Mexican Canyon Trestle, Ursula and I escorted David Williams back to El Paso in preparation for our next excursion the following day (more on that next week).  On this week’s Fun Photo Friday I’ll present my favorite shots from this portion of our David Williams Tour and our return through Transmountain Pass within El Paso’s Franklin Mountains.  Until then, here’s a view from Transmountain Road of West El Paso looking into neighboring both Old and New Mexico in the distance:

View from Transmountain Pass of West El Paso and both Old and New Mexico

View from Transmountain Pass of West El Paso and both Old and New Mexico

By the way, if you’re reading this and other material authored by me on The Destinary website, this post was not “Posted on (fill in the date) | By destinary” as they’ve been erroneously claiming; this material was in fact reposted.  The Destinary have also been claiming the right to do so, without links back to the original and without full attribution (“by RDoug” and a nonworking link is not proper attribution) with a rather bizarre interpretation of U.S. copyright law in which they claim I’m responsible for changing my RSS feed settings so that they cannot skim my material for commercial purposes.  That would make reading my blog less convenient for you, which I’m not willing to do.  As such, I’ll be running this little diatribe on all travel related posts until they cease and desist, along with this:

© 2015 R. Doug Wicker (
All right reserved — that includes you, Destinary

Final note:  Considering The Destinary is a site listed as owned by Sonia Bosquez-Platt of Indianapolis Tour & Travel, you may want to rethink doing business with her or her company.



Filed under Photography, R. Doug Wicker, travel, vacation

3 responses to “The Williams Tour Part 6 — Cloudcroft, Mexican Canyon, and back to El Paso

  1. Pingback: The Williams Tour of the El Paso Area - Page 3 - WaltherForums