Railcar’s party days come to an end

The New Mexico Alcohol and Gaming Division received complaints about alcohol sales at the Santa Fe Southern Railcar at Lamy Depot. Gabriela Campos/The New Mexican

If you are looking to quench your thirst on a weekend visit to Lamy, you will no longer be able to get a tall, cool one at a stationary railroad car owned by the Santa Fe Southern Railway.

The New Mexico Alcohol and Gaming Division has advised primary owner Karl R. Ziebarth that under the company’s Public Service license they can no longer host weekend events in Club Car 1158.

“They are not licensed to sell alcohol in a stationary car,” spokeswoman Bernice Geiger of the state Regulation and Licensing Department said in an email.

The company’s license was issued for use during summertime trips between Lamy and Santa Fe, a type of license intended “for selling alcohol beverages to travelers on trains or airplanes,” states the email, a restriction that meant putting an end to weekend events in the railroad car that apparently began this winter.

Ziebarth, contacted by telephone in Dallas, said the company is no longer selling alcohol at the train car and had stopped “some time ago,” after being notified of the violation.

Geiger said that after the agency received complaints the matter was referred to the Special Investigations Unit under the Department of Public Safety. Regulation and Licensing is awaiting a report from Special Investigations before any possible enforcement action is considered, said Geiger.

This latest kerfuffle in the small community of Lamy southeast of Santa Fe is apparently related to ongoing issues between some local residents and Ziebarth, said a resident who wanted to remain anonymous to avoid any conflicts. Ziebarth, who said he also has a residence in Santa Fe, and others were involved in a 2013 plan to allow tanker trucks to off-load crude oil into specialized train cars on the railroad’s Lamy property. That effort was opposed by some people and did not materialize.

Regarding the booze train car, Ziebarth said, “It was an experiment that didn’t work out. It was an occasional thing that people wanted to do in the community.

The word “travelers” seems to be key for the state. Geiger’s email said, “As the car is not on tracks, not attached to an engine and is not selling to travelers, the Public Service license does not cover the car.”

Rick Shore of Lamy said he worked as a volunteer server at the rail car and that sales were halted last weekend when organizers were advised of the violation. The operation had gone on “for a month or two,” he said.

“We got their (Alcohol and Gaming’s) OK verbally” for the sales, said Shore. “There is some confusion about that (the law),” said Shore. “There are some questions about that particular statute.”

“We would like to make something happen down there,” said Shore.

Ziebarth, an independent transportation consultant, had operated the railway with excursion trains for tourists between Lamy and Santa Fe until operations ceased in 2013. At the time service was halted after some 20 years, he told The New Mexican that money was the issue.

The railway currently has no scheduled service and operates on a charter basis, Ziebarth said this week. “We are trying to develop that and hope to be doing that fairly often in the summer months.”

Asked if he had any complaints over the short-lived use of the stationary club car, Ziebarth said, “not to my knowledge.”

Contact Andy Stiny at 505-986-3007 or astiny@sfnewmexican.com

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