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Tourist Fun


Over the years there have been stories of races between trains on railroads that ran on parallel tracks. My favorite is the Colorado Midland and the Rio Grande along the Arkansas north of Buena Vista. This tale however is more local. The Denver and Rio Grande and the Santa Fe ran close to each other from Pueblo to Denver.

Before 1917 they ran on their own tracks. The Santa Fe, built 15 years after the Rio Grande had to cross over the Rio Grande three times during the trip. One of those places was just north of Fountain. Over the years I have watched for a story like this.

The city ticket agent of the Santa Fe railway, traveling to Denver, was a passenger leaving Denver on Friday last. The Santa Fe was twenty minutes behind its scheduled leaving time, and this circumstance caused its departure from Union depot to be coincident with the leaving time of its narrow-gauge rival. The two trains loaded with their human freight, pulled out of the station simultaneously, and those aboard who knew that the two lines paralleled, not unnaturally anticipated an interesting race on the steel rail. They were not disappointed, for the suburbs of the metropolis were scarcely cleared before the exciting contest began in dead earnest. For many miles the trains ran side by side at an accelerated rate of speed, and when one or the other diverged to escape a heavy grade, for a few moments were lost to sight. It was observed that at the next meeting place they were as close to each other as when they had separated.

Indeed, so even was their thrill that when the Santa Fe train passed an overhead crossing of the Rio Grande just outside of Sedalia the rival was passing beneath. The excitement grew in intensity as distance was passed, and soon became as thrilling in interest, if not more so, than steamboat races were to be in the days of the river travel on the Mississippi.

At Castle Rock the platforms of both trains were crowded with male and female passengers, unable to watch the movements of the rival trains. A few miles south hats and handkerchiefs were waived continuously by the people on both trains, and cheers resounded above the roar of the fast-flying wheels and snorting of the laboring locomotives. As the two departed they raced to Palmer Lake. Just north of town was another crossover. Again the timing was just right. All this was exciting and entertaining to the highest degree, and more especially to the passengers on the Rio Grande, many of whom were tourists, ticketed for the Pacific coast, and who were being treated to a sensational episode not on the bills, and scarcely dreamed of in their most fanciful musings. As the trains approached the beautiful little city at the base of Pikes Peak, the opposing train was out of view.

In a few minutes they were moving again, only to be next to each other. North of Fountain the passengers waved and cheered as one passed over the other. As the two roared into Pueblo, the race was still at hand. Here the two did not share a station, so the actual winner of the race is unknown!


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