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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

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