Saddle Up with the West Rail Line

On Saturday, we got a sneak peek of RTD Denver’s newest project, the West Rail Line, which will officially open April 26, 2013.  This train lover’s event was sponsored in part by the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden, CO:  Tickets for the preview were sold by the museum…luckily, we were able to buy two tickets before the two trains sold out.

The morning of the ride, Charles Albi (Colorado Railroad Museum) and Kevin Flynn (RTD Public Information Manager, P3 Project) provided a presentation regarding Denver’s train history and the history of the city and people encompassing the 12.1 miles of rail.  “Much of this route was started in 1891 as the Denver, Lakewood & Golden Railroad and continued as the Denver and Intermountain until 1953.”  This section of rail line had originally closed to passengers in 1950, however RTD retained the right of way of the rail line, which is the same route used by the W Line today.  (In attendance at the morning’s presentation was someone who had actually been a passenger of the last train in 1950.)  Thanks to our 20x zoom, we are able to share this great presentation with you:

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Seated on the train, we were lucky enough to sit next to a local train expert who is a volunteer with the Platte Valley Trolley.  He was able to answer our train questions and provided us with lots of extra facts.  The majority of the line runs parallel to Denver’s 6th Avenue, which connects Golden and Denver.  Our W Line preview started and ended at the Jefferson County Government Center in Golden with the turn around point at the Decatur/Federal Station.  Unfortunately, there was construction in progress, so were not able to make it all the way to the final stop – Union Station.

Hey Denverites! In celebration of the opening of the West Rail Line, enjoy FREE rides on the W Line on Friday, April 26. Continue the party on Saturday, April 27 with FREE rides on ALL  light rail lines all day!  Save the Earth, ditch your car for the day and explore your city.

Colorado Mountain Club

K and I joined the Colorado Mountain Club a few months ago and quickly signed up for our first school – Wilderness Trekking School.  WTS is designed to teach the student the basics of navigating the backcountry off marked trails.  The CMC is:  “An organization devoted to connecting those who love the Colorado Rockies or who study or seek recreation in them.”

“The primary purposes of the club are to gather and disseminate information regarding the Colorado mountains in the areas of art, science, literature and recreation; to furnish facilities for the enjoyment and study of the mountains by the Club members and the public; and to advocate for the preservation of the alpine regions.”

We meet at the American Mountaineering Center which is the old Golden High School.  They have converted it into the rich mountain learning center that it is today.  We have been nothing but impressed with the facility and the professionalism of the instructors.  There are about 80 students in our class, which we meet for a lecture once a week for 2.5 hours.  We then have a “field day” where we apply the principles discussed in class on the trail.  This course is about a month and a half, so we decided to post our first two hiking trips and then we will do our last 2-3 in another post.  We went to Eldorado Canyon State Park, outside of Boulder, for our first trip and then we went to the Beaver Brook Trail near Evergreen for our second trip.  The hikes are gradually getting longer and more difficult.  Next trip is snow travel, shelter building and avalanche awareness.

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Golden, Colorado: Where the West Lives

Since it is in our backyard, we decided to visit the Golden History Center, Astor House and the Clear Creek History Park.  The Golden History Center is located off of 10th and Cheyenne Street in downtown Golden and has lots of historical artifacts dating from the Gold Rush to present day.

Founded during the Gold Rush in 1859, Golden had grown from a dusty mining camp to the capitol of the Colorado territory from 1862 until the capitol seat was moved to Denver in 1867.  The first Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil was found near Golden, it is home to Buffalo Bill’s grave and museum and of course home to the largest single-site brewery on earth, Coors.

During Prohibition beer production stopped and Coors started new lines of business to keep their employees working. Coors began producing porcelain dishes and malted milk, which they sold mainly to Mars candy company.

After visiting the history museum we crossed over Clear Creek and headed to the Astor House.  It was originally built in 1867 and was the original hotel in Golden, serving patrons from miners to Territorial Legislators who met nearby.  In its later years it turned into a boarding house and is now on the National Register of Historic Places.  The Astor House stayed in continuous operation as a boarding and rooming house until 1971.  It has now been restored to it’s late 1800’s historic charm and truly is a walk in the past.  It had one of the first bathtubs in town and for $0.25 a traveler could take a hot bath; I am sure it was appreciated.  From the pull chain toilet to the water pump sink in the kitchen that still works, it is a must see.

A short walk behind the Astor House is the Clear Creek History Park.  This park encapsulates Pioneer life as it was in the 1800’s.  The winters were harsh, life was tough and it took sheer will to survive.  Some of the restored structures that are on display were moved from nearby areas of Golden and ranches outside of town.  There is a schoolhouse, blacksmith shop, cabins, barns and even a root cellar.  On select days there are costumed interpreters who help bring the area to life.  The park is about a block from Washington St, so it is another one for the list if you’re in Golden.

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Our walk through Golden’s history would not be complete without a stop at the Old Capitol Grill, one of Colorado’s most historic buildings and best restaurants.  It served as the capitol building to the Colorado Territory and was home to some of the first legislative sessions, until the move to Denver.  Over the years, the building has held many different businesses.  The Colorado School of Mines had early college sessions here, Colorado Central Railroad had offices inside and it served as a mercantile until 1971.  Ok, enough history, it’s time to eat.  K ordered the fish and chips and I had the Buffalo Melt, and both were very good.  I complimented my Buffalo with a Coors Batch 19, which is a pre-prohibition style lager, only available in select cities.  A true sports bar atmosphere in the original Capitol of the Colorado territory: Awesome.

Golden, CO: Home of the 2 Hour Vacation —>

Coors Brewery

Even if you are not a beer connoisseur, the Coors Brewery tour is a must when visiting Colorado.  It is FREE and is chocked full of information for you history buffs and generous samples for the beer lovers!  This was definitely a must on our list….I love a FREE adventure and J loves a FREE beer.

Coors was started by Adolph Coors in 1873 along Clear Creek in Golden, Colorado.  The brewery survived through 18 years of Prohibition and 2 World Wars.  It is  now considered to be the largest single site brewery in the world!

After learning the history and science of beer making, Coors rewards you with a visit to the tasting room…the most popular area of the tour.

As Homer Simpson would say, “Mmm…Beer.”

Coors Brewery Tour Information

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Buffalo Bill

Buffalo Bill is best known for his Wild West Show, which introduced The West and The Cowboy to the entire world.  The show toured the U.S. and Europe!  Even Queen Victoria saw his Wild West Show in 1887.

The Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave is located in Golden, on top of Lookout Mountain.  The museum celebrates the life and times of Buffalo Bill.  He was buried on Lookout Mountain in 1917 with over 15,000 people in attendance.

We visited Buffalo Bill the day of the Commemoration of the 94th Anniversary of his Burial.  There was a re-creation of the graveside service, Wild West characters and Civil War era music.

Buffalo Bill, K & Furry B

AMAZING view from Lookout Mountain — Golden, Colorado is home to Coors and Colorado School of Mines

Lookout Mountain is appreciated by all outdoor enthusiasts….Bicyclists…


and…Exotic Car Owners (he revved his engine for us when he saw me taking a pic).