Saturday, April 11, 2015

Walkin' Around the Wonderful, Exciting Colorado Train Museum - Aughhhh!

There is nothing more boring exciting than an afternoon spent at the Train Museum.  And this one was no exception.  When he told me our next stop was the train museum I was immediately dismayed excited at seeing more trains!  It was a mind numbing fun filled time we had.

The only  best part of the afternoon was the ride around the site on the real steam train.  I remember reading stories abut the people who settled the West.  They would ride out to the stations in the rail cars, the cinders would blow back and burn holes in their clothes.  It was aggravating as all get-out lovely to have the cinders fly into my eyes. 

Frank loves the trains.  So not so luckily we can find these little places of train hell gems all over the country!

  If you have seen one train car, you have seen them all.  It was interesting to see all the different train cars. There was a kitchen car, something every girl wants to see!  The kitchen car was on the Maintenance Trains and would feed the men who did the repairs to the rails and bridges as they traveled the lines. 

This not so interesting sight was a snow plow obviously fashioned out of a truck body and a set of rails.  I couldn't find one like it on the internet, but I did find this awesome video of a modern day snow plow engine plowing through the snow.  (Click Here). 
Oh, here it  It was called the Southern Galloping Goose.  It was created from a freight box mounted on the automobile frame.  It was designed to self balance on an uneven mountain track.  The swaying back and forth of the cars looked like waddling geese going down the track!

If you can see the engine No. 491 behind the Galloping Goose there?  It was built entirely in Colorado in 1928.  The museum received it i 1963.  They use it for themed events like A Day Out With Thomas and The Polar Express Rides.  What fun!

 On the over priced wonderfully fun ride on the steam train, we rode  around the entire facility.  The time was agonizingly slow up too quickly as the engineer made three rounds of the yard. 

We passed a picturesque water stop.  Large amounts of water were needed for steam engines.  (Yeah, I questioned that tense as well, but it is correct.)  At the water stop the train would also take on coal.  Trains could run about 150 miles before needing more water.  These stops were important to the nation because settlements and then towns evolved around these water stops. 

The boilerman swung a spigot arm over the water tender and jerked the chain to begin watering the train.  The term "Jerkwater Town" evolved for towns that were too small to have a regular train station. 

We did not get to sit in the "fancy" section of the train.  I would imagine the horsehair seats were uncomfortable for a long train ride.  About as uncomfortable as I was in the "cattle car" seating!

Remember me talking about my hobo grandfather?  In his later years he worked in the mail car of the Illinois Central route from New Orleans to Houston.  It was in a car such as this one, he would sort the mail and bag it up for the various towns.  As the train slowed for the mail exchange one guy would push out an arm to hook the town's mail bag and the other guy would hook the bag for that town on the empty receiving arm. 

In this car they had a very realistic dummy sorting the mail.  When I stepped into the car I was startled and freaked out pleasantly surprised at how real he looked.

This crazy little engine worked on the Pike's Peak run.  They were purchased in the 1930's from GE and actually 'pushed" the passenger car up the mountain. It was designed with a cog system to climb steep slopes with grades up to 25 percent.  The cog system works as a brake on the way down. 

In the 1950's, GE no longer wanted to provide engines to the Manitoba and Pike's Peak line and the rest of the engines were purchased from Switzerland. 

Engine No. 346 was built in 1881 for the Denver & Rio Grande Western for $2000 and ran until 1947.  It was wrecked in a runaway on Kenosha Pass in 1936.  In 1950 the Museum founder bought it.

Here is another piece of boring never to be used interesting information about locomotives.

  Steam locomotives are categorized by their wheel arrangement.  The Whyte notation represent the unpowered leading wheels, the number of driving wheels followed by the number of unpowered trailing wheels.  Engine No. 346 was a huge engine.  It's Whyte notation is 4-8-4.  Frank was all excited about that!  Wow!  4-6-4.  I would be a 0-2-0.  Yeah, buddy.

I kinda did like the big yellow Rio Grande.  It was the last operational F-Unit on the Zephyr line from Denver to Salt Lake City.  It was the last non-Amtrack intercity passenger train in the US.  It was donated to the Museum in 1996.

Did I ever tell you about the time we actually paid $15 EACH to go
into a scale model exhibit that had two grown men who had set up a train set each?  And we got to watch them make the trains go around the tracks?  Yes, I did it out of love for the man who loves trains.

You can imagine my dread wonderment at climbing those two sets of stairs to see a HUGE set up that took 28 years to build!  Gosh, gee. 

Oh!  Look!  A cattle car........yes, a cattle car.  Oh, boy!

I had a great time walkin' around all afternoon,

looking at engines and locomotives until I was a bit loco myself.



  1. Loved this! You had me laughing out loud.

  2. you are the funniest person!! I loved that and laughed out loud, maybe I snorted coffee out my nose. I'm sending this to my recently transplanted from MD friend in CO. So funny.
    Oh and Drew and I were walking around a town new to us, and there were the train club people showing their enormous train display. Come on in!! they said. I pulled out quickly and said you can go if you like, I'll wait out here with Cole. Luckily Drew wasn't interested. I have spent many an hour standing next to him at home depot, and he's spent many an hour standing next to me at a quilt show. LeeAnna


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