12. October 2013 · Comments Off on Colorado Discoveries 15: The Georgetown Loop Railroad · Categories: Uncategorized
The Georgetown Loop Railroad is a nice short rail excursion that's great for kids.

The Georgetown Loop Railroad is a nice short rail excursion that’s great for kids. Love the conductor sticking his head out the window on the right, although we were warned multiple times to NOT do that.

A couple weekends ago our family took a trip up towards Denver to visit the Georgetown Loop Railroad. It was a beautiful early autumn day. I was hoping we’d see brighter aspen, but we were a couple weeks early for that.

The Georgetown Loop Railroad is a remnant of the Georgetown, Breckenridge, and Leadville Railroad from the late 1880s. The railroad was very busy during Colorado’s gold and silver rushes in late 1800s. The line was all but abandoned by the late 1930s. It was reopened in the 1980s for tourist excursions and is still very popular today, thanks to it being less than an hour west of Denver on I-70.

We invited our sponsor cadet, Rob, to join us too. The boys really enjoy hanging out with him.

The token photo of the boys in front of a train.

The token photo of the boys in front of a train.

When you buy your tickets for the train, you have a choice of leaving from one end of the route or the other. It’s a round trip, and passengers board and depart at both ends. We chose a time that had us boarding and disembarking at Silver Plume, the west end of the route. It’s the less-interesting of the two stations; I recommend boarding at Georgetown station for a nicer experience.

Why is it called the Georgetown “Loop”? Because part of this route involves the track looping over itself to gain elevation.

Note the loop on the east side of the route. The route descends from west to east.

Dave took some pictures of the train as it crossed the Devils Gate Bridge:

Crossing the Devils Gate Bridge just above Georgetown Station.

Crossing the Devils Gate Bridge just above Georgetown Station.

IMG_7594

Token photo of the boys in front of the town sign.

Rob and Timmy in front of the sign.

Rob and Timmy in front of the sign.

You can enjoy the scenery and listen to the narrative of the history of the railroad and the train. The locomotive is a Class C Shay Locomotive which uses a series of vertical drive shafts that gives it a distinctive appearance and distinct advantage on elevated rail lines, due to increased traction.

Did that make sense? It barely makes sense to me, so here’s a Wikipedia article about Shays.

After the brief ride, we attempted to have a nice lunch in Georgetown. Most of the appealing-looking restaurants had long lines, but one place offered outdoor seating without a wait. Unfortunately, there was an incredible wait for our meals. Lesson learned — head towards Idaho Springs or Central City.

The Georgetown Loop Railroad offers daily excursions behind both steam and diesel. The steam excursions are typically during the summer months. There are also numerous specialty excursions, such as their special fall runs and holiday specials. Schedules and tickets are both available online. Ticket prices range from $18-25 for standard excursions with extra fees for the fancier cars, and specialty rides.

Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, active duty military members can get two free adult tickets AND two free children’s tickets with a military ID. This is through the military Blue Star program┬árun by the National Endowment for the Arts. Unfortunately, you can only get the complimentary tickets in person at one of their two ticket offices.

So for the Vollmers, that’s three Colorado tourist railroads down, at least 5 to go. We’ll see how many more we knock out this year…