Saturday, August 18, 2018

Riding the Leadville Railroad

Exploring Colorado

I surprised my travel buddy one morning and bought two tickets on Leadville's Colorado and Southern Railroad, a narrow-gauge train that takes tourists through the San Isabel National Forest.  It goes up 1,000 feet and then crawls along a mountain ridge.  I figured he needed a break from all the hiking he had been doing.  He would be forced to sit and enjoy the scenery for the entire morning.

During the summer months, the train leaves the Leadville depot at 10 am and 2 pm.  It costs $40.00.  There is a snack car and restrooms on board so there are no worries.  All you have to do is sit back and enjoy the ride.  And that is exactly what we did.

This train can boast that it is the highest elevation railroad in the nation; therefore, the views are spectacular (as long as you don't suffer from acrophobia).  It rises above the Arkansas River Valley and on clear days you can see the two highest mountains in Colorado:  Mt. Elbert and Mt. Massive.

While rolling along, a conductor gives a running commentary on the history of the railroad and of Leadville, but we couldn't really understand her.  The loud and jarring clackety clack of the train smothered her words.

On the way back down, the train stops at the old French Gulch Water Tower (Elevation: 10,840 ft.) and everyone can get off to stretch their legs.  We took a brief tour of the engine and met the engineer, a colorful and very patient man who answered all our banal questions.  

I focused on the rocky cliffs and the forests of lodgepole pines and aspens on the way down.  The scenery on both sides of this narrow gauge railroad is dramatic.  And absolutely awesome.

Our two and a half hours ended way too fast, but I had accomplished my mission.  My travel buddy had recharged his batteries. 

 Over lunch we revisited a favorite fantasy--going around the world by freighter and train.  Can we do it? 

Oh, yes.

Stay tuned!

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