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Rail Recollection

Sidebar by Gwen Perschbacher

Transportation – July 2007 – Colorado Central Magazine –

Riding the trains has been a life-long experience. My first train memory is riding to and from school in the second grade on the Galloping Goose in Kansas. The last was going through Copper Canyon in Mexico. However, it was during the 1940s that my train rides are most memorable. At the time, my parents were living in Climax and I was attending school in Kansas. The trip was often from Malta [the railroad stop near Leadville] to Pueblo, where I changed trains for Geneseo, Kansas — and vice-versa.

On at least one occasion I boarded in Salida or took the bus from the Salida depot, which was at the end of lower F Street. The depot was unlike any I had ever seen before or since.

Miss Stahl, my history teacher, upon learning that I rode the train through the Royal Gorge, commented on her trip through the Gorge. She thought the beauty and experience was shamefully missed by a young passenger who preferred a comic book. In my experience, the train always stopped at the Royal Gorge for 15 or 20 minutes so you could step outside for a good look at the bridge and scenery.

During World War II, the trains were crowded with civilians and military personnel. Despite the crowds, I remember the people were friendly and the train crews were helpful. The cars and restrooms were clean. The conductor came through the aisle to pick up or check tickets, and call the next stop. The conductor was first off the train to put the little stool down and help those needing assistance.

On one trip, accompanied by my parents and little sister, we boarded the train at Geneseo. The train was so crowded that my Dad and I had to stand all the way to Pueblo. We never saw the inside of a coach; we spent the night riding in a small hall across from the restroom with the door open and the floor covered with sleeping military men. There was a round metal bar across the windows where we put our arms, helping to keep us upright on the curves and waking us up when we fell asleep.

The changing beauty of the scenery with the seasons and the trains will live on in memories.