Part 14: Leadville, CO to Colorado Springs, CO


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The Trip

We spent the night in the RV Corral on the main street of Leadville.  Not surprisingly, at 10,400 feet it got quite cold at night.  We decided that we wanted to take the train tour in Leadville so we bought tickets and got aboard.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

This engine is non-operational, but was still interesting.

The sign was attached to the tender.

The domes on the top are the steam generators.  On the top right is a steam dynamo used to generate electricity and bottom center is the steam-powered air compressor.

Eight driving wheels.

No. 1918 will be our ride for the day.  This motor is a GP-7.

On the run out of Leadville, we passed the old hospital that has been converted to a boarding house.

The route will take us along the mountainside with no place to turn around, so the train was pushed up the hill caboose first.

The railroad line also had a limited number of freight cars and a side snow plow.

The track crew uses this rig to access the rails.  Note that the rails fit between the duals on the rear.  The front wheels are suspended by the hydraulic railroad wheel assembly.

When the original line was going to be de-commissioned, it was purchased by a local for the whopping sum of $10 which was the whole deal including rails, ties, 2 locomotives, the track right-of-way and a bunch of spares and yard equipment.  The seller was willing to do the deal because it is very expensive to de-commision an active rail line as it requires removal of rails and ties.  It was cheaper to give it away.

The trip had several kinds of cars including an open-topped car.

The aspen trees were just starting to turn color.  We could see a grove on the other side of the canyon that was starting to turn yellow.  Note the avalanche run in the canyon to the left of the yellow grove.

To the southwest we could see tall ranges with snow fields remaining from the previous winter.

On the opposite side of the canyon was a tall peak with exposed cliffs.

One sharp turn on the track allowed seeing the entire train.

The state highway is in the bottom of the canyon.

This stand of aspen will look great in about 10 days.

An avalanche run was visible on the far canyon wall.

There were plenty of peaks that were well above timber line.

Near the end of the rails we came upon a set of zip lines above the tracks.

The ride stopped by this old water tower.  Folks were encouraged to get off the train and walk about.

During the end-of-the-line stop tours of the engine were given.

From the end of the line we could see more bald peaks near Fremont Pass.

At the end of the run we joined our friend Rachel for lunch and she said we "really needed" to go over Weston Pass.  So we plotted a course and ascended the pass.  Near the bottom of the trail the road passed through dense aspen groves.  10 days from now, they will all be yellow.

The road over the pass was slow going due to the large number of ruts and mud holes.  Also, we encountered plenty of oncomming traffic proving that this is a popular day drive for the locals.  From the trail we could see a bald ridge to our east.

The oncoming traffic was not limited to cars and trucks.  We were passed by a big group of bikers in full expedition gear.

Further toward the crest of Weston Pass we got a nice view of the cloud shadows playing on the bald ridge.

Just short of the crest, we came upon these two vehicles.  The red pickup has stalled due to the altitude so the Toyota is towing him up.  The theory was that he could coast down the other side until the engine would start.  And, except for the lack of power steering and power brakes on the descent, this was a reasonable plan.

There were very small snow patches remaining in the shadowed recesses of the pass.

Since this was during the Labor Day weekend, camp spots were a premium.  We ended up pulling off the trail to a (mostly) flat spot overlooking the creek at about the 10,500 foot level.  After an uneventful, but cold, night we continued down the trail to the low lands.  The far hillsides were verdant with large meadows on their western faces.

We traveled south to US-24 then east into Manitou Springs.  At Manitou, the striations in the local bedding are easily visible in the backyards of homes built on the hillside.

Oh, yeah, I forgot.  Weed is legal is Colorado. The weed supermarket was full of cars doing their weekend shopping.  The fellow in the red shirt above has spotted Thor as we were driving by.

Leadville is a cool little town and worth a visit if you are in the area.  The train ride was nice, but nowhere near as nice as the Durango Silverton.  That said, it was still worth doing.  Next is a few down days in Colorado Springs with Peter and Becky.

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