This an excerpt from the Albuquerque Journal of July 12th, 2002. "Hammered by losses from the U.S. Forest Service's shutdown of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, the operator announced Thursday it will not run the 1880s-era railroad next year under its existing five-year contract. The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad Commission, which oversees operations, stated Thursday it will seek a new company to operate the railroad next year to replace the struggling nonprofit Rio Grande Railway Preservation Corp. The commission's decision not to renegotiate Rio Grande's contract means the corporation will be liquidated after the end of this year's operating season in October, Rio Grande board member Geof Gordon said. The corporation has lost more than $500,000 in ticket revenue and continues to lose about $17,000 per day because of the June 7 shutdown. About 70 employees have been laid off, and only a handful of administrative staff are still on the payroll. "You just can't absorb in this railroad that kind of revenue loss with ongoing expenses and survive," Gordon said. "We can't continue to tread water indefinitely in a bureaucratic void." The railroad, which is jointly owned by New Mexico and Colorado, links Chama and Antonito, Colo., and the closure has cost the mountain towns millions of dollars in tourist revenue. The Forest Service shut down railroad operations because of fears the coal-fired steam locomotives would ignite wildfires in the drought-stricken Rio Grande and Carson national forests. The attorneys general of New Mexico and Colorado have questioned the legality of the closure because the railroad operates on a strip of private property that predates both forests. The Rio Grande corporation asked the commission to seek a court injunction to lift the closure order, but the commission took no action, leaving the corporation to suffer its mounting losses. Commission chairwoman Carol Salisbury couldn't be reached for comment Thursday. In a press release, she lashed out at the Forest Service, but she did not explain why the commission did nothing to help the Rio Grande corporation during the shutdown. "I feel we will need to resolve whether this Forest Service action was an unlawful taking of private property, so that the commission and future railroad operators will know whether they are subject to the whim of Forest Service edicts issued without any pretense of fair hearings or normal due process," the release stated. In 2000, the Rio Grande corporation was created by the volunteer group Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad to run the railroad after the commission couldn't find any qualified operators. The corporation, which had successful operating seasons in 2000 and 2001, was expected to run the railroad for two more years under a five-year contract. If or when the railroad will reopen this year is still undecided. The Rio Grande forest has agreed the railroad can resume operation when certain fire-danger indicators decrease. But Carson forest officials have not agreed to the same reopening conditions. Even though the Carson reopens today to camping and hiking, the railroad is still prohibited from running because fire restrictions have not been lifted. The Rio Grande corporation's board of directors has requested the railroad be allowed to reopen Tuesday, but forest officials have not yet responded to the request, Gordon said. "We need to get started or just stop," he said. "If they're going to keep us closed for the rest of the year, what's the point?"" From the looks of it, this is probably the death knell of the Cumbres & Toltec.