Cripple Creek and Victor Railroad
As soon as the conductor calls, “All aboard,” waiting passengers eagerly make their seat selections on the Cripple Creek and Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad. Some head towards the front car to observe the crew shoveling coal into the steam engine while others are drawn to the rear to watch the receding rails. The popularity of open or closed cars depends on weather conditions. Choose wisely, there is no way to move between cars during the 45-minute trip.
The train follows the old Midland-Terminal roadbed, crosses a reconstructed trestle and passes gold mine sites with lively histories. Stands of aspen frame postcard worthy views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
On an uphill grade the train slows to a mere crawl before restoking provides a burst of steam power accented by pillaring black smoke. Passengers may encounter soot or tiny coal embers; wearing white is not a wise choice.
Narration along the route relates a time when the rich Cripple Creek and Victor gold mining districts supported a population of nearly 50,000 and served as the economic and social hub of the region. At the turn of the 20th century ladies from Colorado Springs rode the Midland train to Cripple Creek in order to shop for the latest fashions. The May Company opened their second department store here during those boom days.
Long draws on the steam whistle demonstrate how Echo Valley earned its name. Numerous reverberations work their way down valley with each toot.
Returning to Cripple Creek passengers find a gift shop filled with railroad themed items, including lots of ‘Thomas the Tank’ gear, and an array of local history books. Next door, check out the Cripple Creek District Museum in the original Midland-Terminal Depot.
The 4-mile round trip aboard the colorful Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad is a great choice for families with small children or adults with short attention spans. Plentiful aspen groves add autumn color and photographic highlights.
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