Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Train to Nowhere

This past weekend we spent a mini-vacation in Breckinridge with our daughter’s family. The Breckinridge Summer Fun Park thrilled the grandkids, but made my back sore. After a half dozen runs on the Gold Runner Coaster and a few races down the Alpine SuperSlide, this ol’ gent was ready for something more sedate.

I had never taken the two and a half hour ride on the Leadville Colorado & Southern Railroad because the train came along after my Steve Dancy Tales. In Leadville, the second in the Steve Dancy series, trains had not yet arrived in the ore rich town. A sub-plot in the book involved the Santa Fe and Denver & Rio Grande competition to lay the first narrow gauge track into Leadville. This feud between the two railroad companies had started years earlier in New Mexico. In The Return, Steve and his friends comfortably ride to Leadville on the winning Denver & Rio Grande line.

The Return, A Steve Dancy Tale by James D. Best
Leadville Colorado & Southern Railroad

Leadville by James D. Best
Denver & Rio Grande

The predecessor to the standard gauge Leadville Colorado & Southern train came along about a decade later. The tourist attraction travels for about seventy-five minutes, stops at an authentic water tower, and then reverses direction. I knew the train didn't use restored period cars, so I wasn't expecting an authentic frontier experience. Beyond resting my back from being jerked hinter and yon, I enjoyed the ride and appreciated seats which had been configured for comfortable sightseeing. 

The kids enjoyed the train ride as well, but were happy to get back to the Coaster and SuperSlide. It made me wonder what a frontiersman would think of our modern playthings … or the cost. The mines may have played out, but there is still gold in them thar hills. 

Honest westerns ... filled with dishonest characters.

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