GLENWOOD SPRINGS — At least one stretch of rails west of Denver was washed out by recent torrential rains in the region, interrupting train travel from Denver to the west for an unknown amount of time, officials said on Wednesday.
A stretch of train tracks that once crossed a ravine called Lost Bogie Canyon, between two short tunnels in the foothills west of Denver, now stretches over a long expanse of empty space, instead of the ridge of fill dirt that used to span the ravine.
The rails and ties of the track were still intact on Wednesday, hanging in midair, according to a photograph by a railroad crew member who posted several pictures on the website, therailwire.net.
The upshot of the washout, according to Amtrak representatives, is that passenger trains will not be dropping off passengers at the Amtrak station in Glenwood Springs, which may have unfortunate consequences for the traditional fall colors tourist season and perhaps longer.
“It really depends on the time of the year,” said Amtrak ticket agent Dawn Robinson, who staffs the station in Glenwood Springs, and who estimated that perhaps 200 people get off the train here “on a good day.”
But traditionally, she said, the “leaf peeper” season, as it is called, brings droves of train passengers from Denver and the Front Range, who come to see the Aspen leaves that turn golden in the fall.
And in normal years, she said, at Thanksgiving and Christmas times, “We’re swamped.”
Robinson said she had not been told when to expect the trains to resume coming west from Denver, noting that right now Amtrak is busing passengers westward from Denver to Grand Junction, where they can resume their train trips.
Even the traditional roundabout route for trains, from Denver to Cheyenne, Wyo., and then west to Salt Lake City, Utah, is not an option now because of a washout along the tracks between Denver and Cheyenne, Robinson said.
“At least, that’s what I’ve heard,” she added.
The station manager, Sandi Brown, was away from the station on a training trip, Robinson said, and was not available for comment for this story.
Marc Magliari, media relations manager for Amtrak, said the washout is actually the responsibility of the Union Pacific Railroad, which owns the tracks and the right of way.
“We understand from UP that the tracks may be closed for some time,” Magliari said.
A spokesman for Union Pacific could not be reached for comment by press time on Wednesday.