Clear Creek was the location of the most intense early mining activity during the Colorado Gold Rush of 1859. I took the photograph above, of a vintage photograph on display at the Georgetown Loop Railroad Visitors Center. I thought it showed both the ardor and the harsh conditions with which these early miners worked to fulfill their dreams of striking it rich in a gold or silver discovery. Georgetown earned the nickname "Silver Queen of the Rockies"
As soon as we drove closer to the railroad park we could see the famous 600 feet high Devil's Gate High Bridge that spans Clear Creek Canyon. Completed in 1884, the three foot narrow gauge Georgetown Loop Railroad was considered an engineering marvel for its time, and was one of Colorado's first visitor attractions. In 1973, the Colorado Historical Society began restoring the railroad as part of its 978 acre park.
Click on this photo of a placard in the park of the Georgetown Loop Railroad, to see a diagram that shows how it was built in circular loops, as it rises in height, to reduce a 6 percent grade to a 3 1/2 percent grade.
The beginning of the train ride is fairly level, but soon we would be turning in many loops running over the over the creek and slowly climbing higher.
We chose to sit in the open rail car to get the maximum views.
At one point we passed under the Devil's Gate Bridge, knowing that soon we would be on top of it! You can see a video of us going under the trestle on my Mille Fiori Favoriti facebook page on this link. As you can hear on the video, the train ride is narrated, and we heard the history and many interesting facts about the area and the railroad.
We also had a good view of this section of Interstate 70 that runs parallel to some of the train track. You can see the slow increase or decrease of the grade ,depending on whether you are traveling west or east.
About midway through the train ride we passed by the Lebanon Silver Mine entrance. You can buy tickets to take an hour long guided tour inside this 1870 sliver mine, where you will travel 500 feet through the mine hsaft to see the veins. of silver and learn about how the mountain was mined.
Many areas along the ride became narrow in width....
We had a brief stop at the Silver Plume Station. Silver Plume was once another mining town
We finally reached the highest trestle called the Devil's Gate Bridge
We had a good view looking down at Clear Creek. I took these photos in autumn, but in June the creek will swell to four times this size with the spring snow melt.
The train passes over the bridge slowly for safety sake. You can see a YouTube someone took from a distance of the train going over this bridge.at this link
A photo from 1855 of the original Devil's Gate Bridge taken by Louis Charles McClure. and now in the public domain. The train narrator told us that the original bridge used to sway quite a bit when the train passed over it! Thankfully the new bridge, rebuilt in 1984, is much safer and sturdier.
Looking down through the tracks!
In the distance is historic Georgetown.
We are approaching the end of the train ride and the engineer blows the "right of way" pattern on the vintage steam engine train whistle. To hear it, click on this link for my Mille Fiori Favoriti facebook page.
A good view of the steam engine as we pull in to the station. You can see the Devil's Gate Bridge bridge in the distance.
On the day of our visit their was a complimentary wiener and brat roast at the visitor's center. It was so nice to sit by the creek and eat our food and try one of the local micro beer brews. My husband and I really enjoyed our ride on the Georgetown Loop Railroad and look forward to taking another ride, and maybe a mine tour, when it re-opens for the season.
Colorado has many historic and scenic trains to ride and we look forward to doing all of them. I also look forward to taking you along, on my blog, the next time!
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