Sunday, March 26, 2017

Royal Gorge Route Railroad--Canon City, Colorado



Canon City (pronounced Canyon City) is located two miles south of Denver, and 45 minutes west of Colorado Springs. It is known as the "Corrections Capital of the World," as it is location of nine state and four federal prisons and penitentiaries, which employs thousands of residents of the area. Canon's City was laid out in 1858 during the Pikes Peak Gold Rush, and the first building was built in 1860.  The American Civil War interrupted the development of the town for a few years, but afterward both Confederate and Union soldiers began settling here due to the Homestead Act of 1862.  (All photos and photo collages in this post will enlarge if clicked on)

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By the 1870's, Canon City became well know regional trade center. Today, Main Street is full of interesting shops, restaurants and museums.


The Canon City Downtown Historic District was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.  It consists of 80 historic buildings, built mainly between 1870 and 1920.


I loved looking at the architecture of the well maintained brick buildings and imagining what the town looked like during its early days.

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A placard along Main Street tells of some of the history of the town and region.

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Another placard along Main Street describes how Canon City is also known as the "Banana Belt of Colorado" due to its geography. It has a mild climate compared to other regions in Colorado. This enabled early settlers to farm, have orchards and raise livestock.


I liked the architecture of the 1899 First United Methodist Church, with its red brick walls and copper tower pinnaclesYou can read the church's history on their website at this link. The church was not open on my visit, but the church's website has many photos of inside and of its stained glass windows, as well as its Kimball pipe organ on the church web site under its "history" tab.


One of my favorite sights was this charming home, that was built in 1888, in the middle of Canon City's Main Street.  I believe there is a business located in it now, but I liked how they kept its cozy home appearance. 

 All in all I loved our visit to Canon City and would like to return one day for a longer visit to spend more time in the area.


The main reason for our visit to Canon City, however, was to take a ride on the Royal Gorge Route Railroad!  The railroad transits the Royal Gorge on a two hour scenic and historic train ride, along the most famed portion of the former Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad. The train departs the Santa Fe Depot in Canon City daily.

The Royal Gorge is considered the "Grand Canyon of the Arkansas River.  Approximately six miles long (9.7 km), and one of the deepest canyons in Colorado, the Royal Gorge has a depth of 1,250 feet (380 m).  It is also very narrow at points, measuring from 50 feet (15 m) wide at its base, to 300 feet (91 m) at its top. The Arkansas River carves through the granite formations of Fremont Peak and YMCA Mountain, which rise above the north and south trims, to form the canyon


My husband and I purchased tickets for a glass domed vista car. The Royal Gorge Route Railroad offers daily departures with several classes of service and dining to chose from, and first class lunch, dinner and murder mystery train rides.  The interesting history of the original Royal Gorge Route Railroad, that began back in 1879, can be read on their website at this link.


We had lunch while we traveled west, and enjoyed the views from the domed windows.


We planned on going outside to the observation deck car after lunch to enjoy the open air experience and 360 degree views. Notice how close to the canyon walls that the train travels at times!


The train ride is fully narrated.  We were told that the wires we saw across the canyon are there to signal the train engineer if there were any rock falls from the top of the canyon. If so, the train would stop so they could be removed from the tracks.


As we dined we enjoyed looking at the views out the doomed windows at the passing scenery


Our first glimpses of the Royal Gorge Bridge, that traverses the canyon from above was exciting! We knew we would be driving to the Royal Gorge Bridge and park to walk across the bridge later in the day.


The bridge is 955 feet above the Arkansas River that runs besides the railroad--the highest suspension bridge in the United States, and one of the highest in the world!  Built in 1929, the main span of the bridge between the towers is 880 feet (268 m), and the total length is 1,260 feet (384 m). The width is 18 feet, and the towers are 150 feet (46 m) high. The steel base structure is covered with 1292 wooden planks.


During our ride west. we were also excited to see whitewater river rafters traveling along the side the train! 


We continued traveling west until we were out of the canyon to its terminus in Parkdale, Colorado. The train then stopped for a short while.........


....and then the train reversed to travel back east towards Canon City.



We went to the open air car to stand for the trip back so we could enjoy the views.


As the canyon walls grew higher we saw the Royal Gorge Bridge again above us in the distance.


You can get an idea of how narrow the canyon becomes at the bridge point. 


If you click on the photo above you can see people looking down at us from the bridge! The train stops for a few minutes at this point on the return trip to allow people to take photos.


My husband and I really enjoyed being outside on the train to see all the views and to take photos of the bridge above.


I was able to take this photo above of what was once an attraction of the Royal Gorge Bridge Park. It was a funicular, that was built in 1931, and which brought people down from the Royal Gorge Bridge Park to the bottom of the gorge, where they could stand on the platform to watch the train pass by. The funicular is sadly no longer functioning, due to a fire that occurred in 2013, that damaged the tracks.


I was able to capture a photo of both the bridge above and the train below, traveling through the Royal Gorge Canyon.


We saw the whitewater rafters again at the end of their trip.




I was also excited to get a photo of the "North Pole" of the Royal Gorge.  Every Christmas season the Royal Gorge Route Railroad has special "Santa Express Trains" that are very popular events. The train area is decorated with lights and a Santa Workshop. As the children on the train eat cookies and sip hot chocolate, "elves" read them stories. As the train passes the North Pole they can see Santa waving to them. Santa then comes on board to greet all the children and give each child a bell from his reindeers' harness. You can watch a video about the Santa Express Train at this link.



We passed remains of old water pipes that once brought water from the river, but are no longer in use.


We were approaching Canon City again, and the end of a wonderful train ride.


Before we left the train station I asked my husband to take this photo of me standing under a nearby very old cottonwood tree. Look how wide it is!  It must be hundreds of years old.

We were now on our way to visit the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park--see my next blog post to see more!

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55 comments:

Linda W. said...

What a great train ride! Looks like you had perfect weather too.

eileeninmd said...

Hello, Pat! What a wonderful trip. I love the tour of Canon City. Awesome views from the train ride. I would like the open air train car. My hubby would like to be one of the white water rafters. Great photos! Have a happy day and new week ahead!

Terri @ Coloring Outside the Lines said...

We've been there twice in our travels. I love Colorado, but generally like to head straight across the bottom of the state to Pagosa Springs, and then Durango and up the MD highway. We haven't ridden the rail yet, but I would like to if we ever get out to Colorado again.

Maggie said...

Dear Pat, thank you for taking me along on this fascinating train journey with you, it was amazing. The train looks to tiny against the canyon walls and the bridge high above looks as thin as a rail and not at all possible to be walked upon.
The Christmas train ride for the children must be a big thrill for them.
Canon City looks like an interesting place to see also but why are there so many prisons in the area?
Happy Mosaic Monday
Maggie.

happywonderer.com said...

Yikes...that Royal Gorge bridge is something!
I love the fronts of the buildings. What a great place to visit.
Hope you have a great week Pat!

Taken For Granted said...

You took some great photos while on your Colorado trip. The Royal Gorge is a special place, that comes through in your pictures.

Vee said...

Now that's a train ride! What a wonderful experience it must have been.

Tamar SB said...

How scenic!!

Tom said...

...oh boy, it all comes back to me. I hate heights and I crossed that bridge in 1990, it scared the sh*t out of me! Thanks for stopping by, please come again.

J said...

Wow! What an adventure! Can you imagine the challenge of building those tracks through that picturesque, yet treacherous, terrain? I love every single word and photo in your travel posts. So much interesting information, and your pictures make me feel like I am right there. Canon City reminds me of the center of Estes Park - the same row of shops with sheltering mountains in the background. I was there in October and it was snowing!

Ida said...

Oh wow what an amazing train ride. I would so enjoy taking that trip. Thanks for sharing you awesome photos.

If you subscribe to my blog via e-mail for updates you may need to resign up as I recently switched e-mail addresses.

Jackie Mc Guinness said...

I'm always amazed at the ingenuity of workers in older times, what they could create without today's modern technology and equipment. And their stuff lasts unlike today's throw away mentality.

abrianna said...

Beautiful views. I bet with snow or the fall foliage it is quite stunning.

Gentle Joy said...

Wow, what an amazing trip and wonderful pictures! :)

Photo(Geo)grapher said...

What a wonderful trip and beautiful photos

Daniela said...

Your Colorado is all to live and to enjoy, darling Pat, I'm amazed more and more at the gorgeous landscapes you always share, your travels and trips are always so exciting, thank you !

Wishing you the best of weeks
I'm sending my dearest love to you

XOXO Dany

Lowcarb team member said...

Now that looks a wonderful trip.
Loved looking at all your photo's, I love how you also include the mosaics.

Have a great week

All the best Jan

Tammy@T's Daily Treasures said...

A gorgeous day for a train ride! My oldest boy lives in Colorado but we've not been to Canon City. I love small towns with historical buildings. But that bridge. From down below it sure looks a little scary.

podso said...

It looks like an amazing day! Beautiful scenery. We love a good train ride and up where you sat would be amazing! The photo of the town reminds me a little of Rainbow Row in Charleston except they are houses not shops or office buildings. But nice colors.

Ruth Hiebert said...

That train ride looks like a lot of fun and a great way to see the Gorge up close.

jeannettestgermain said...

Oh how nice to be on the observation deck of a train - it sounds the next best thing to driving! To be surrounded by mountains, wow - wish could go on it right away! Thank you for sharing this beautiful part of your state with ALL SEASONS! Thank you for your encouragment about knitting the sweater a second time. Have a lovely week, Pat!

Lorrie said...

Every time we drive through the Rockies (and the Coastal Range) I'm in awe of those who dreamed of railways and then built them. Such a feat! Gorgeous scenery, Pat.

The Furry Gnome said...

Looks like a fantastically scenic train ride!

Sylvia said...

Pat, I loved that train ride you so carefully photographed for us. I recently view some railroad promotions from the 30s and 40s. They were very interesting. Steam engines are my favorite. Thanks for sharing. Have a great week. Sylvia D.

Rajesh said...

Wonderful shots of rail road and historic buildings. Nice to see them.

bettyl-NZ said...

We love taking train rides and yours looks like an amazing time with all the scenery and activities you witnessed! The town is one of those places I could spend hours just looking around. Thanks for the history of the area, too.

Lady Fi said...

Amazing views from the train!

Tanna said...

What a HUGE cottonwood!! I love getting to travel with you! On to the park! LOL!

Thank you so much for your prayers for our friend, Pat.
blessings ~ tanna

Impulsive Artistry - Artist Charles Wolf said...

What a cool train ride and wonderful pics!! Thanks for sharing! : )

LV said...

Thanks for the memories.

DrillerAA09 said...

We have taken that railroad excursion. I wish we had also spent a little time wandering around town. Thanks for sharing your images and bringing to mind a great memory.

Kristy LifenReflection said...

What a charming and fun place to visit. I may to have to add to my travel dreams!

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

What a wonderful way to travel and see this beautiful gorge! I want to plan a train trip soon. Beautiful photos my friend. Thanks for sharing and for your prayers and words of encouragement. I finally feel a little better tonight. Hugs, Diane

Ruth Rieckehoff said...

What a colorful town! It should fun to base yourself there and explore the surrounding areas. The gorge is beautiful. I get very excited when there is an opportunity to visit naturals gems like these.

Liz said...

Wow! What a fabulous train ride! The historical buildings in Canon City are lovely. The landscape is absolutely wonderful. It must have been an incredible experience to travel between the canyon's immense rock faces.

Amy Johnson said...

Wow! What an amazing trip! I love Colorado and have visited several times. I would love to take this train ride.

Sharon said...

Gold Rush history -- so fascinating! I love all the trains!

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Looks like great fun. Nice to have a diesel locomotive with an open air car. Those with coal fired locomotives can should give you a lot of cinders in your clothes and hair.

Great pics. I've never been the train but I have been on the high bridge.

Pamela Gordon said...

That was quite a train trip Pat! The gorge is beautiful but looking at the bridge way up high and thinking about driving or walking across it gave me quite a scare. I don't know if I could do it even in a car! It is amazing to me how these railroads and bridges have been built along high walled canyons and across them. It would take a lot of engineering and workers to complete! That tree is huge! Thanks for the great tour.

carol l mckenna said...

Wonderful post and gorgeous photos ~ great time you are having ~ thanks,

Wishing you a fun week ^_^

carol@The Red Painted Cottage said...

Thanks for taking us on this fabulous train ride and to learn about the history of the area.

Ciao Chow Linda said...

My goodness. What a gorgeous train ride. Crossing that bridge would give me the heebie jeebies. I look forward to your next post.

Pat Tillett said...

I've heard of Canon City, but don't know anything about it.
Great photos + interesting info = a fantastic post!
I'd love to take that train ride.

Cheryl @ TFD said...

This looks like so much fun! And a perfect day for your adventure, too. I love all the photos and the one with both the bridge and the train is my favorite. Thanks for sharing these marvelous scenes with us!

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

Great post - would love to explore there.

Michelle said...

What a fantastic trip! I would love to do some train travel and those views are just spectacular! Thanks for linking up today and I hope to see you back again next week!

Gail Griner Golden at Gail-Friends said...

Greetings - thanks for stopping by Gail-Friends. I'm interested in travel, so I'm a new follower.
Blessings, and nice to meet you.
GG

Eleaine Sarah Thomas Jobs Bush said...

handsome.

Rambling Woods said...

Another great trip. I love all that you could see from the train. I would love to take a trip by train and watch all the sights...Michelle

Jan Robinson said...

I love the brick home built in 1888 also. It's great that the business has not changed the facade or posted signs on it.

Michelle Leslie said...

Wow, the scenery is breathtaking. What an amazing ride. Thank you so much for sharing it, I really enjoyed the trip

indah nuria Savitri said...

I love the train ride! I really want to see Colorado..it's a beautiful part of this country indeed

Jim Vail said...

I love these old west towns. And who doesn't want to go rafting?!? Great inspiration! #wkendtravelinspiration

Elizabeth Day said...

What a great trip, Pat. We did not get this vantage of the bridge and Gorge when we were there years ago, but did visit Canon City. Colorado is one of our most favorite states to visit, and to think it is your new home. I look forward to reading more posts.

Jann Olson said...

Looks like a fun place! I love riding trains through scenic areas. Hubby and I have been contemplating a trip in June. I just showed him this. Thinking it might be where we go. Thanks for sharing it with SYC.
hugs,
Jann