Farewell to the Rails
Some local citizens hope they have not heard the last mournful whistle of one of the citys oldest railroads. On Sat. Sept 24 and Sun. Sept. 25, more than 150 people rode rail motorcars on a farewell train ride on the Denver & Rio Grande rail which runs north from Glenwood Springs to Carbondale.The excursion was sponsored by the Glenwood Railroad Museum. More than 200 people called to make reservations, Pat Girardot said. Her husband, Jan, who is president of the Western Colorado chapter of the National Railroad Historical Society, was also surprised at the turnout. I had no idea there was that much interest, he said.Today RFTA will decide whether or not to scrap the rails that were completed in 1887 and were responsible for much of the valleys early economic vitality. Its such a tragedy, Glenwood and Carbondale are letting it disappear, Terry Paulson said. With Glenwood Meadows coming in, its so important to preserve the historical aspect of it.The 26-mile round trip to Carbondale tells the story and the struggle of the valley. On one side of the rail lies the calm of the Roaring Fork River while the other is side is the constant hustle and bustle of Highway 82.It has been up to local rail supporters to convince RFTA, who owns the right of way, to allow a heritage tourist and dinner train to operate which could increase tourism and generate revenues of more than $100,000 annually.For the farewell tour, seven rail operators from all over the state used their own time, money and gas to bring their own personal motor cars for use at the event. The Museum ran their two cars, which were acquired after the railroad left them to rust away in the weeds.Several years ago, when Jan Girardot found them, he asked the railroad if he could get them running again. RFTA mechanics rebuilt the cars and the Museum has run the cars ever since. But last weekend may have been the last time for them to ride one of their favorite lines. I think the farewell aspect is important, Girardot said.For some, the loss of the rail seems like another marker of change in the valley.Its another thing thats leaving, Jerry Potter said.Paulson believes the best solution is to have an excursion railroad along with a trail. The answer is to have them both, he said.All aboard?
From left, Pat Girardot, of Glenwood, is a volunteer at the Glenwood Railroad Museum; Maureen Brennan, of Carbondale, is a mom; and Nancy Thornton, of Glenwood, is retired.
The Churchill siblings from left, twins Jordon and Landon, 16, are juniors; Taylor, 13, is a freshman and Michael, 18, a senior. They live in Rifle and are home schooled.
Jerry and Cari Potter, of Carbondale are retired.
From left, Terry Paulson, of Aspen, is a former Aspen city council member and a taxi driver and Diana Davis, of Glenwood, teaches at Yampa Mountain High School.
From left, Jon Busch, of Aspen, is projectionist at the Wheeler Opera House and a columnist for the Aspen Daily News; Dick Maddock, of Silt, owns Pioneer Machine and Tool and is president of the Roaring Fork Valley Model Railroad Club and his son, Duane Maddock, of Denver, a civil designer.
Glenwood ladies from left, Corrine Merritt is a social worker for the Family Visitor Program; Karen Keating works for Red Canyon Auto Body and Nancy Barbee works for Aspen Research Group.
The Like Family of Glenwood, from left, Garrett, 6, is in first grade at Glenwood Springs Elementary; Michelle works for Neil-Garing Insurance; Ben, 4, is in preschool and Dan is the controller at Big Johns.
The Dean family of Silt clockwise from top, Andrew works for Coca Cola; Bridget is a mom; Joseph, 8 is in third grade at Roy Moore Elementary and Michael, 11, is in sixth grade at Riverside Middle School.
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Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon closed around 9 p.m. Thursday for a flash flood warning.