Sunday, July 22, 2012

Now the Colorado Leadville and Southern Railroad, it started as the Denver, South Park and Pacific narrow gauge railway back in 1872, but did not reach Leadville until July 2, 1880.  It operated until it was purchased by the Denver Leadville and Gunnison RR in 1889.  Later it was operated as part of the Colorado and Southern Railroad until 1937, when the South Park Line officially closed down.  In 1943 the narrow gauge track was converted to standard gauge.
The Colorado Leadville and Southern RR operates out of the highest incorporated city in the North America, Leadville.  The passenger excursion train follows a route over 1000 feet above the valley floor up to the Continental Divide.  Along the valley meaders the headwaters of the Arkansas River.
After sitting silent since the 1940s, 13 miles of track was purchased by a private individual for only $10.  This fee included 6 passenger cars, 2 caboose and 4 engines.  Today for a modest fee you can take a 2 1/2 hour excursion through the beautiful mountains of Colorado and hear about the history of the little mining town of Leadville.

The Railroad Station.

The Engine.

Notice the snow shovel on the front of this engine.  Snow could cause delays of not only hours, but days and sometimes, weeks.

One of the passenger cars.  We opted to ride on one of the open cars instead of this covered car.

The beautiful view of Mt. Elbert and Mt. Massive, two of the highest peaks in Colorado.

Looking down on the headwaters of the Arkansas River.

The train goes up a 2% grade and makes several sharp turns.  They said this was a 90 degree turn.  Here we are looking at the caboose from where we sat near the engine.

The old steam engines needed lots of water to cool the engines as they pushed these trains up the steep hills.

Looking down into Fremont Valley we spotted a red jeep with a kayak.  Hey, isn't that Patti Pat?  We all thought she had missed the turn going back to camp, but we found out a few hours later we were wrong.  While we were on the train, a large section of Hwy 24, just 9 miles south of Leadville, caved in.  Instead of the 14 miles back to camp, it took us 77 miles down into Vail and back through Minturn to get home.  More on that later.

1 comment:

Barbara and Ron said...

So that cave-in happened while you were on the train. What are the chances of that? Glad you we're on the road as it happened!