Monday, August 30, 2010

Bike Path Discovery--Rock Island Railroad Roswell Museum

My husband and I were biking along the Pikes Peak Greenway when I spotted a sign that said "Railroad Museum" and pointed off onto Steel Drive. I said to my husband, "That's one museum I've never been to. In fact, I've never heard of it." He suggested we go check it out, so we did. Boy, did we find a hidden gem!

Did you know that there used to be a town named Roswell in Colorado, which was annexed into Colorado Springs? And that the Rock Island Railroad operated a roundhouse and repair yard in that small town, at the end of one of its lines? And that the remaining portion of that roundhouse contains a railroad and streetcar museum chock full of old photographs, artifacts, maps, books, and model trains and layouts? That they have 500 feet of active track along which they can run a restored trolley car which you can ride? That the grounds are littered with antique rail cars, streetcars, and locomotives?

What a treasure trove of history! And the passionate guys working on restoring the cars are a treasure trove of information themselves. They just love to talk about the history of railroads!

The museum is open Monday - Saturday, 9:30 am - 4:00 pm, and is located at 2333 Steel Drive. Admission is only $5 for adults. Check it out! We can't wait to return with our cameras. For more information, go to the website of the Pikes Peak Historical Street Railway Foundation, one of three historical foundations that share the grounds and whose members restore trolleys and rail cars.

Now, if I could only figure out some way to incorporate all this into one of my mystery novels--maybe stash a dead body in one of the rail cars?


Mary said...

There's got to be a story there somewhere. At least in got to fit into one.
Some days don't you feel like everything has a story?

Steve Walden said...

Actually, I did know about the Roswell roundhouse, but I haven't been down there personally. It takes a lot for me to get out, even with my power chair, these days. What's amazing is that the line stretched all the way from Chicago to Colorado Springs with a branch to Denver!

There are some passionate railroad volunteers in nearly every town in Colorado, but they're easier to find near historic spots like Denver, Colorado Springs, Alamosa, Chama, Albuquerque, Durango, Glenwood Springs and Grand Junction. Colorado Springs in particular hosts the Roswell gang, the Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec - Colorado Springs, as well as modeling groups like the Pikes Peak NMRA.

I know that finding a body inside a car, old or new, would probably send me screaming from the roundhouse, especially if it was sudden, like a panel falling loose while working on it. I've seen more than enough death, but that, unlooked-for and unbidden, would take the cake. If you have made a friend or two down at that roundhouse, keep it going! There is all sorts of history that rattles around in those places. Common man, common place history thrives there. Unusual, uncommon stories like Doc Susie up in Tabernash, who served railroad men for years.

Makes me wonder what newspaper articles on the Rock Island may exist with the PPLD.

Steve Walden
Colorado Railroads blog

Ann Best said...

Anything in this world can be grist for the writer's mill! And railroads are almost mythic in the American psyche--at least in mine.

I just found you through Patricia Stoltey. I LOVE mysteries; it's my favorite genre to read. Wish I could write one, but I do better with YA and memoir, especially the latter; my memoir is soon to be published by WiDo Publishing. Do drop over and see me.

Beth Groundwater said...

Steve, thanks so much for adding your information about other Colorado Springs-based railroad buff organizations! And Ann, I'm so glad you found me through Pat Stoltey. She's one of my favorite mystery author pals!