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An Odd Train


Last updated 9/1/2021 at 9:38am | View PDF

Over between Aspen and Glenwood Springs, starting in the 1890s the two local railroads ran a most unusual train. The Laundry Train was run over the D&RG and the Colorado Midland. It usually carried about 250 people. Normally rivals, the two lines cooperated and shared the business. One operated the train on Saturday, the other on Sunday. The train passengers enjoyed an opportunity to roll on the grass and bask under the shade of green trees after having a swim in the Glenwood hot springs pool. They might even fish in the fast flowing river. A picture of the patrons of the "Laundry Trains" might not be this accurate!

In Aspen the miners were quite an interesting bunch. Aspen still had an outlook unique for Colorado, but this is totally different. The railroad companies helped save the day. As the story goes, there were few married men in the camp, and the miners were lacking in certain sanitary abilities. The success of the trains was wonderful. Everybody in the camp was pleased, and the number of passengers increased each week. The trip was made in time to give the people from Aspen two hours at the Springs before the Leadville train left. That is how it got the name "Laundry Train." Just enough time for enterprising people to wash and dry the laundry the miners brought with them! In addition, the trip to the hot pools was a great way to wash the "crud" off.

Fare was minimal, as the purpose of the trip was pretty well understood. The trains, however, were segregated! Not what you think: there were cars for the miners and their laundry, and others for "regular" passengers and families. The miners could not mix with the regular folk, that is until they had bathed. On the arrival at Glenwood there were drop off points where laundry could be left. The walk was several blocks to the pools, along city streets lined with nice little homes. A sign might mark a likely spot to get that laundry done.

The trains ran normally on Saturday and Sunday, mainly in the summer, but after a while it was a year round situation! Curiously Colorado was not friendly to Chinese people. There were few Chinese laundries, and those in Glenwood were not even in food service.


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