Locked in time | Tradiciones / Leyendas

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For years it has stood by the side of State Road 68, south of Taos. Sometimes it lured passers-by with its promise of relaxation on the banks of the Río Grande, sometimes it was empty, a homage to better times.

It was the Embudo station restaurant. Now it’s just a 5 1/2 acre property with five residential buildings and three apartments, a river access, a concrete bridge over the Río Grande, a mountain of old signs (“For Sale” and other) at the entrance, and a pile of potential. But that has always been the case for the picturesque property with its history as a restaurant and commercial property that goes back again and again.

The history of the station area and the surrounding community is long but calm. Embudo was founded in 1881 as a train station along the old Chili Line railroad from Santa Fe to Antonito, Colorado. It later became the site of the United States Geological Survey’s (USGS) first river gauging station. It also became the first USGC hydrograph training center.

In 1979 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Over the course of its nearly 150-year history, the property has fluctuated between a busy city center (relatively) with a popular restaurant on the banks of the Río Grande and a vacant cluster of forgotten buildings along the highway. BUT, there are a number of interesting points about this particular area, according to owner Preston Cox.

“Embudo station is at the end of the ‘wild and scenic’ section of the Río Grande,” says Cox in an email. “This means that the possibility of future river development will certainly be restricted by the federal government. Even the Questa mine would have a hard time opening due to strict standards. The property behind Embudo train station is everything [Bureau of Land Management]. The prospect of future development is as good as none. “

In addition, because of its importance as a migratory area for endangered birds, the riparian zone – or the area along a riverbank – of the Río Grande is one of the most protected riparian zones in the country. That means commercial development along the Río Grande in New Mexico is rare. But Embudo Station is different.

It is privately owned and inherited as a restaurant and commercial property.

All of this jargon means that Embudo Station exists exactly as it did when it was founded over a century ago. And if federal and state protective measures serve their purpose, it will likely stay the same for many years to come. It is a property that is locked in time.

So what does the future hold for this “restaurant that was”?

It is currently for sale again (listed by Sothebys), promoting the station’s history as well as its access to summer sports on the river. However, the pandemic hit it a little hard and it has been on sale since late 2019.

The surrounding community hopes that the new owner will revive the restaurant and bring back Embudo’s heart and soul.

From now on the Embudo station is empty, occasionally cars or trucks drive into its dusty driveway; Visitors looking to explore or potential buyers discussing bright plans for the future.

There are three cheap white lounge chairs on the west bank of the Río Grande, just down the hill from the old restaurant with its large front windows. They’re dirty and have seen better days, but they still work and with a little care they may turn back into chairs people want to sit on. Because those chairs and the property they represent are on the flowing banks of the Grand River, and that means someone is always ready to fix them.

“The river will change you,” says Cox. “If you listen, you will have to learn a lot.”

  • The nearby historic Embudo district was founded in 1881.
  • “Embudo” is Spanish for “funnel”.
  • Embudo Station was once part of Dixon.
  • The land around the station is protected by the Bureau of Land Management.
  • It was the location of the first USGS power meter.


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