Ride Colorado's Historic Railroads
June 22 - 30, 2007
This Elderhostel program was started on June 22, 2007, with
a 6:07 a.m. flight to Denver from Binghamton. As luck
would have it our flight from Binghamton to Detroit was
delayed by two and half hours due to a dreaded
mechanical problem with our airplane. As a result
we arrived on Denver at a little after 2 p.m. I was accompanied
on this adventure with long time friends, Sue and
Jack Cranney. We made our way to the Denver
Hilton Garden Inn near the airport. The first Elderhostel meeting
was scheduled for late afternoon. Dinner was to follow our
registration for the program. Our program leader was
Al Dunton of Fort Collins, Co. He was most energized by
the task of leading our group to the extent he started his
lectures about the trains of Colorado at 4 p.m. and
continued on after dinner for a couple of hours.
It was a beautiful evening in Denver as the first day of travel ended.
Saturday morning, June 23 found our group boarding
a bus for our first stop of the Trains of Colorado program.
The entrance to the Colorado Railroad Museum at Golden.
This museum displays of all types of railroad cars and engines.
There was a garden railroad on the grounds along
with an HO gauge train layout in the entrance building.
Steam locomotive 683 greeted us as we entered the
museum display area. This is a Denver & Rio Grande
Western, 2-8-0 locomotive built in 1890 by the
Baldwin Locomotives Works. It is the only surviving
D&RGW standard gauge steam locomotive.
Galloping Goose No. 6. One of several engines of
this type we would see on our various program stops.
This Goose was built by the Rio Grande Southern RR
in its shop at Ridgway. It was used to replace
the steam passenger train between Ridgway and Telluride.
Among the many railroad cars and locomotives on
display were specialty cars like this Coors
box car. The Coors brewery is just across the road
from the museum. There was also on display a
diesel switch engine No. C988 from the Coors Brewing Company.
It was used to switch cars on the 26 miles of plant trackage.
After our stop at the museum, it was off to Georgetown, Colorado for lunch.
Here comes the locomotive for our train ride of the afternoon.
This is one of several restored locomotives used
on the loop run. The Georgetown Loop Railroad was
one of Colorado's first visitor attractions. Completed
in 1884, this spectacular stretch of three-foot narrow
gauge railroad was considered an engineering marvel for its time.
Steaming across Devil's Gate High Bridge over Clear Creek.
We are at an elevation of 8,615 ft at the Devil's Gate Boarding area.
Steaming toward Silver Plume Station which is 9,i78 ft
above sea level. The thriving mining towns of Georgetown
and Silver Plume lie two miles apart in a steep,
narrow mountain canyon. To create railroad service
between the two towns a "corkscrew" route that traveled
twice the distance, while slowly gaining more than 600 feet in elevation.
The route included horseshoe curves, grades up to 4% and
four bridges across Clear Creek including the massive
Devil's Gate High Bridge.
After our train ride, it off to Colorado Springs for our
next two days of train adventures.
Our Sunday travels started with a brief drive through the
Garden of the Gods. Above is the famous Balance Rock of the Garden.
Steamboat rock formation in the Garden of the Goods.
Our next stop of the morning Pikes Peak Cog Railway
at Manitou Springs. We were scheduled to take
the 9:20 a.m. up the Cog Railway to the top.
One of the old steam locomotives that traveled to
the top of the peak was on display at the depot.
Swiss made coaches carried passengers top the Peak.
It was cool and windy. The high altitude made walking
around the Peak was at slow pace to keep from getting dizzy.
We traveled from Manitou Depot (6570 ft) to the peak (14110 ft).
The cog railway had risen 7549 ft. from the Manitou Springs Depot.
This monument located at the top of the Peak is
dedicated to Katharine Lee Bates who taught English
at Wellesley College in Massachusetts from 1885 to 1925.
In the summer of 1893 saw her lecturing at Colorado College
where she and a fellow teacher made the arduous trip
up Pikes Peak by wagon. She saw the inspirational view
which she immortalized it in the poem America the Beautiful.
It was first published in the July 4th, 1895 issue of
The Congregationalist. It was later sung to the
Samuel Ward' tune Materna.
After lunch we had a stop at the Garden of the Gods
Visitor Center. There was a different view of the Garden
than the drive through one we took in the early morning.
Above is the famous Kissing Camels rock formation.
Another rock formation view at the Garden of the Gods.
Photo was taken from the Garden Visitor Center.
Our last stop for the day was at the United States Air Force Academy.
Above is a photo of the famous Chapel at the Academy.
The Chapel was very beautiful with the sunshine
streaming through the stained glass windows.
Above is a picture of the altar in the Chapel.
Another view of the inside of the Chapel with the
sunlight bathing the inside of the building.
I have always wanted to visit this Chapel and
it was as beautiful as I had imagined.
Early morning sun light basks on Pikes Peak. It is Monday,
June 25th and we are off for a early departure to ride
the Royal Gorge Route Railroad. We had a drive
down to Canyon City where we boarded the 9:30 a.m. train.
Passenger coaches await our boarding.
We are traveling along the Arkansas River as rafter's floated by.
Another view of the Gorge Train heading for Parkdale.
We are about out of the Gorge segment of the trip.
A view of the famous hanging bridge that holds the
tracks so the train can travel in the gorge.
Note the rapids beside and under the train.
After a short stop at Parkdale we begin our return trip
which will stop at the Incline Railway leading to the
Royal Gorge Bridge and Park. Above is a picture of the
stopped train at the incline railway. The open cars were
fun to take photos from. Note we are very close to
the Arkansas River in the Gorge (in background).
Incline Railway cars going up the canyon wall. The Incline
Railway was built in 1931, and features a 45-degree angle,
the world's steepest Incline Railway. The cars descend
over 1,500 feet to the canyon floor.
You almost walk on air as you cross the Arkansas River
Gorge on the world's highest suspension bridge. It is 1053
feet above the foaming Arkansas River. The bridge was
begun June 5, 1929 and completed November 1929.
It is 1260 feet long, 18 feet wide and and the main
span is 880 feet long. The towers are 150 feet high.
A view of the next train going to Parkdale and rafters in the
Arkansas River Gorge taken from the suspension bridge.
At the main gate of the Royal Gorge Park was a unique Water Clock picture above.
The gears of the clock were driven by falling water.
Old Glory waved good-by as we left the park for our next stop.
Our last stop of the day was at Great Sand Dunes
National Park and Preserve. Nestled against the
rugged Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the Great Sand Dunes
are the magnificent centerpiece of a natural system that
includes high mountains peaks, sparkling streams,
powerful winds and billions of grains of sand.
There was sufficient water in the stream for visitors
to enjoy a chance to play in the sand and water.
Another view of the dunes.
Its Tuesday, June 26, we have driven to Antonio, Colorado
for a ride on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. It is
another early morning departure. Built more than 120 years ago,
the railroad is the most authentic steam era railroad
in North America. We will ride the vintage narrow gauge steam
train from Antonio to the 10,000 foot Cumbres Pass.
Our first order of business this morning was the
traditional group photo. We are in from of one of
the steam engines used by the Cumbres &
Toltec Railroad. Nice group of people and
easy going as travelers.
495 waiting to be fired up!
Steaming along to Cumbres Pass.
Passing a water tower along the way north.
Traveling through beautiful scenery!
Osier station stop for lunch. The meal was provided as
part of the trip. The set menu as a choice of Turkey or
Meatloaf dinner or soup and salad bar. Everyone seemed
to enjoy this delicious meal stop. Now it time to finished
the trip and arrive a Cumbres Pass.
Beautiful scenery along the way.
End of the ride! Cumbres Pass. It was a terrific ride
with great railroad scenery. From the Pass our bus took us to
Durango for our over night stop. We had dinner at the
historic Strater Hotel. The hotel was interesting but the food
was just average. It was fun to walk around Durango after dinner.
The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad station.
It is Wednesday morning, June 27th and we are
at the train station early to visit their museum.
The station area had a roundhouse that housed a
museum of interesting railroad artifacts. This is
another Galloping Goose parked outside the museum.
Steamed up and ready to pull out for Silverton.
We had a 9:45 a.m. departure time so we had
plenty of time to check out the station area and
rolling stock of the D & S railroad.
Full steam to Silverton.
Animas River rapids. We did not see any rafters on this river.
We followed the Animas River most of the way to Silverton.
Arriving at Silverton. The train was rolled almost into
the center to town. We disembarked for lunch
at the Grand Imperial Hotel.
The Grand Imperial Hotel in downtown Silverton.
They served a very good buffet. The had an
opportunity to shop and explore Silverton before
boarding our bus for Ouray, Colorado. We will spend
two nights at Ouray before heading back to Denver.
One of several mountains that could be seen
from Red Mountain Pass (11,018 ft.).
A photo taken in downtown Ouray. There were many
beautiful photo in opportunities in the Ouray area.
Sunrise on the mountains outside Ouray. It is Thursday, June 28.
Sadly, we have finished our train rides and it is down hill from here.
Thursday, June 28, arrived with a little chill in the air.
Above is one of the 4 x4 vehicles that will take us to
Yankee Boy Basin to see gold mines that are no longer in use.
The trucks are open air so we will not be going fast.
On the way to the basin we will be on some rugged roads.
One of the beautiful mountains we passed on the way to the basin.
An abandon mill at one of the closed mines.
Rugged mountain scenery.
We passed twin falls on the way up to trails end.
This scene should look familiar to Coor's beer drinkers as it is
the mountain falls scene on their beer cans.
After our morning tour of 4 wheeling, we bussed over to
Ridgway for lunch. After lunch, we visited the
Ridgway Railroad Museum. There most interesting
exhibit was this Galloping Goose. This Rio Grande Southern
Motor No. 1 was the Galloping Goose prototype. It was built in
1931 from a 1926 Buick Master Six touring car.
It was back on the road early for our last day of the program.
We are heading back to Denver and then home.
Our first stop was at Black Canyon of the Gunnison
National Park. Above is the visitors center at the park.
Pulpit Rock Observation point. The canyon is very
deep and the walls are very steep. Camping and hiking are
restricted to only certain areas of the park. The Gunnison River is full
of very difficult rapids with large boulders everywhere in the river bed.
No one is allowed in the river for rafting.
All hikers and campers are warned that the park rangers
cannot help anyone out if the get lost or
hurt while in the canyon.
Beautiful Painted Walls of the canyon.
The Redstone Inn. We stopped for lunch at the inn.
This section of Colorado is the heart of the coal mining region.
We saw coal trains being loaded and waiting for rail shipment.
The Redstone Inn was built by industrialist John C. Osgood
who operated coal mines and the manufacture of coke
at Redstone. Redstone was the picture of a perfect
company town with the Redstone Castle for Osgood and the
Inn for bachelor miners. There was 88 cottages for miners
with families. The utopia was short lived as the
mines closed in 1908.
Coke furnaces. There were almost 100 making coke around the clock.
As we drove toward Denver the scenery was fantastic.
We wished for frequent photo opts. We passed Vail and
Cooper Mountain ski areas and there others too frequent to photograph.
One more beautiful Colorado scene.
For dinner we stopped at Idaho Springs, Colorado.
We dined at the Buffalo Restaurant on buffalo entrees that were quite tasty.
After dinner, we had some free time to explore the area.
I found one last chance to photograph a railroad
engine and passenger coach.
Upon arriving at the Hilton Garden Inn we were
treated to a final Colorado sunset. It was a great
conclusion to a wonderful Elderhostel program.
This trip was wonderful and helped to fulfill a
life long dream of mine to ride on the
railroads of Colorado.