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Well Dodo, nice job of summarizing the Colorado mountain railways!

One point about the Colorado Midland was that it was a standard gauge line (4' 8.5" gauge) while the others were narrow gauge (mostly 3 foot). This made the problems for the CM particularly hard because standard gauge equipment is bigger and requires less sharp turns. The theory was that this would avoid the need to move goods from the mainline standard gauge cars in Denver to the narrow gauge cars. But all it really did was force the narrow gauge lines to upgrade their systems. For a long time there were three-rail tracks that could handle both kinds of equipment.

If you're interested in old railroads, the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden (just west of Denver) is worth a visit. http://www.crrm.org/ There are also several steam trains still running as tourist attractions, including the Durango-to-Silverton system http://www.durangotrain.com/index.htm

Golden also features the Coors beer factory, which is claimed to be the largest single-site brewery. One may argue whether American-style lager is the "right" sort of beer to drink, but in any case the factory tours (with free samples) are fun. Coors has its own small factory railroad.

There was--and still is--considerable admiration for Europe in Colorado. Towns like Manitou Springs (in the 1900s) and Telluride (today) were specifically set up to compete with Alpine resorts, complete with Spas at hot springs, casinos, and "European" restaurants. Many of the original Colorado settlers came directly from Europe, either as wealthy aristocrats (many with Tuberculosis) or as mine workers (Germans and Cornish in particular).

by asdf on Mon Oct 24th, 2005 at 01:40:51 PM EST
There was--and still is--considerable admiration for Europe in Colorado. Towns like Manitou Springs (in the 1900s) and Telluride (today) were specifically set up to compete with Alpine resorts, complete with Spas at hot springs, casinos, and "European" restaurants.

Indeed, the first time I came across a photo of the Argentine Central was the scanned-in version of some 70-year-old tourism brochure (which I failed to locate now) comparing the sights of Colorado with that of Switzerland. Now I know Switzerland, first-hand, yet I tended to agree, at least on potential if developed like the Swiss equivalents have been.

This was after, a decade ago, I saw a travel-o-documentary about the Rio Grande line across Moffat Tunnel, which impressed me, but compared to the lost stuff I found later on all the B&W photographs on the web (say the ghostdepot.com site), it's just dime-a-dozen... Now, if only...

...a mountain ressort/observation dome had been built atop Argentine Peak, some switchbacks had been replaced with spiral tunnels and direct trains from Denver had been arranged...

...the Rio Grande narrow-gauge system had been taken over by the state of Colorado and strategically maintained...

...the Denver, South Park & Pacific had electrified its mainline...

...the Rio Grande Southern had built panoramic cars...

...then the Jungfraubahn, the Rhätische Bahn, the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn or the Montreaux-Oberland Bernois would be looking with envy today, I think.

[Respectively: a half-finished mountain railway, a narrow gauge network consolidated by a canton, and two other busy narrow gauge railways making profit mostly with tourist transport.]

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Oct 24th, 2005 at 03:45:26 PM EST
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