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Trip Start Jul 26, 2012
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Trip End Aug 06, 2012


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Flag of United States  , Colorado
Sunday, July 29, 2012

Who doesn't love a train ride? We certainly do, so Sunday's adventure took us south to Leadville Colorado - the highest incorporated city in North America. I'm talking elevation here, but based on the folks we saw living in this area, I won't say that's the only definition that applies. It looked like Leadville is a hippie heaven on earth - just check out our train conductor! I thought it was great:)

Anyway, the drive to Leadville was beautiful. We had to take a detour as the road we would have used was closed due to a sink hole. Apparently it was built over an existing mine, and gravity finally had it's way. As anyone who took history in school knows, Leadville was teeming with miners back in the day. The most famous, or at least the one I remember, is Baby Doe's Matchless Mine.

Leadville itself is a quaint little town, with colorfully named shops such as "Sweet Betsy's from Pike" Cafe and Antiques. We arrived at the Leadville, Colorado & Southern RR train station in plenty of time to get a choice seat - preferring the view down the mountain instead of at the mountain. You had your choice of a closed car, an open car without a roof, or an open car with a roof. Because we were in the reserved section, as we had paid extra for the wildflower tour, we got the open car with the roof. By the time we returned to the station we would be mighty glad we had that roof!

The route was along the old Denver, South Park & Pacific and Colorado & Southern lines to the Continental Divide. This is the same route people took back in the glory days of the 1800's, where a train trip to Denver, 100 miles, would take about four days. One of the more interesting sites was the headwaters of the Arkansas River. Here it is basically just a meandering stream. We enjoyed some beautiful panoramas and wonderfully cool temperatures. After about an hour those of us with our green wristbands hopped off the train for the wildflower tour. I wondered what they would do if you tried to join them and didn't have a designated wristband, as no one seemed too concerned with checking our arms.

So this was the part of the tour I was really looking forward too. I envisioned a meadow covered with wildflowers - a riot of color along a hillside. We got the meadow and the hillside, but pretty much no flowers. Our guides took special care to point out and name the few brave little flowers that were still surviving. Because of the drought this  was one of the worst years for viewing wildflowers. So basically we got to get off the train and have a nice little hike around the area. All in all it was a pleasant way to spend a Sunday, but definitely not a highlight of our trip.

After returning to the train station and being greeted by a nice steady rain, we went to lunch at Callaway's, located in the historic Delaware Hotel. The hotel itself is a Victorian charmer dating back to 1886, and saw desperadoes such as Doc Holiday, the Unger Brothers and
Butch Cassidy. The hotel has been renovated by the owner - the oak
paneling, crystal chandeliers, and period antiques offer the
Victorian ambiance and charm of an era gone by. The lady at the reception desk even wore period clothing, complete with a broad red feathered hat. I was thrilled we had chosen this restaurant to dine in, otherwise we would have missed an amazing slice of history. The bonus - the food was great. Easily one of the best burgers we'd ever tasted.

On our way out of Leadville we made a detour to see Turquoise Lake - known not for it's color as I was hoping for, but rather for the turquoise that was mined in the area. Then it was back to Avon. As we were driving along the highway I looked up and saw the Leadville, Colorado & Southern RR making it's afternoon trip.
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