A train you shouldn’t examine in Cañon City

Letter from Roger A.c. Williams

Law enforcement – November 1999 – Colorado Central Magazine


I wish to complain about an annoying incident involving the Colorado Department of Corrections in Cañon City.

Having enjoyed a ride on the new Royal Gorge train on Sept. 24, followed by lunch in the depot, I walked up to the nearby state penitentiary to stretch my legs before the ordeal of the drive through Colorado Springs and Douglas County on I-25 and C-470 back to Boulder, and for a look at the place.

I read the signs in front of the sprawling facility, one identifying it as the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility I think, one about a new administration building and one, on the fence by a gate and watch tower, about anyone entering the place being subject to search; then walked over to inspect a train under trees in a nearby park. Naturally I did not enter the place or go right up to the fence; another sign says “NO TOURS”.

It was a little mining train, small unsprung ore trucks behind a small internal-combustion locomotive, on an isolated narrow-gauge track. The cars were painted with letters bearing the name of the facility. It must have been used to work the quarry behind it long ago.

I headed back toward the depot, only to be pursued by an agitated person apparently from the facility. He persisted so I waited for him. To my amazement he was quite obnoxious; he accused me of going past “NO TRESPASSING” signs — I saw none — onto DOC property and that I would have to submit to a “strip search.”

I couldn’t believe it; I don’t know if this jerk had any jurisdiction on the sidewalk by U.S. 50 where I’d stopped, but he promptly joined my Jerk File, and the facility he’d come from my Don’t-Go-Back list, as if I had any intention of returning. I didn’t see a name or badge number; but he was white, about my height (5’10”) with a white mustache, and a Department of Corrections patch sewn onto his shirt. As I said, I crossed no fences, did not go up to the fence in front and passed no no-go signs that I could see.

I insisted I’d only walked over to the mine train for a look at it, and saw no signs. He finally asked for “ID” — I showed my driver’s license — and he let me go. I’m glad nothing more came of it including a “strip search” or free lodging inside; but wish to complain about the attitude and behavior of this person. It was quite uncalled for.

Roger A.C. Williams