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All Aboard! History Meets Innovation in Colorado

Originally Published in Trailer Life Magazine

Railroads, one of the Industrial Revolution’s greatest phenomena, brought an affordable way for American businesses to operate on a grand scale. Today, the history of the American railroad system, specifically Colorado’s role, is highlighted at the Colorado Railroad Museum, located outside of downtown Denver.

The Colorado Railroad Museum offers detailed accounts of Colorado’s development by railroad, including information about different trains designed to climb steep grades and narrow railroad gauges. Visitors are able to marvel at authentic business and passenger cars, locomotives, freight cars, snowplows and cabooses. In fact, the state’s oldest steam locomotive, the Denver Leadville & Gunnison (DL&G) No. 191, is on display at the museum. Built in early 1880, the DL&G was responsible for transporting gold, silver, ore, coal, timber and merchandise between Denver and central and southwestern Colorado mountain communities. The largest steam engine at the museum is a restored 1940s Chicago Burlington & Quincy (CB&Q) No. 5629. In its prime, the CB&Q was used for heavy freight and passenger service; today it is one of four remaining Burlington locomotives of its kind. Winding around mountains in a train was a tedious task — the Manitou & Pikes Peak (M&PP) No. 1 was designed to handle steep mountain slopes with grades of up to 25 percent. The Colorado Railroad Museum is home to the largest collection of narrow gauge trains in the country – more than 100 narrow- and standard-gauge steam and locomotive, passenger cars, cabooses and Galloping Geese are housed at the museum’s lot.

An outdoor miniature replica railroad system mesmerizes the kids, while adults and children alike can step inside the museum to view different exhibits including, “Through the Canyon’s and Over the Peaks: Colorado Trails and Tourism, 1880s to the Present” chronicling the development of trains in Colorado.

Call ahead for guided tour availability – certain times of the year offer tours that take visitors on rides around the 15 acres of museum land. People can step inside most of the trains and explore examples of one of America’s finest inventions. 800-365-6263, www.coloradorailroadmuseum.org. If you’re planning an extended stay, there are two 5W Woodall’s campgrounds nearby: Dakota Ridge RV Park and Golden Clear Creek RV Park.

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