COBWEB CORNERS: The private rail car

By Mel McFarland

       In the days of the grand railroads, private cars from all over the country could be found passing through Colorado City on their way into the cool Colorado mountains. Important people from the East traveled here in style to stay in the many famous hotels. Not everyone owned one. Like the RV's of today, you could rent one.
       In 1892, it cost $50 a day to hire a completely furnished and palatial dwelling house on wheels, containing 17 beds. In front was an "observation room"; next came two drawing rooms, both fairly spacious. Behind these was a dining room 12 feet long. The middle part of the car was occupied by berths, which were comfortable sofas during the day. In the rear were a good-sized kitchen, a china closet, a pantry, a bathroom and a cold-storage closet. Linen for table and beds, tableware, crockery and all other necessaries were supplied. Three servants were provided, also without extra charge - a skilled cook, a waiter and a porter. The luxuriously housed occupant could travel wherever he wished all over the country for a modest fee. He could stop wherever he desired and have his car sidetracked, making his home in it during his stay.
       The cook was always a capable person, and, having a time schedule for a journey across the continent, he would telegraph ahead to various points for such luxuries as may be obtainable at the markets in different cities, thus arranging for fresh fruits, butter and eggs, and even for a newly cut bouquet to be put on the table every morning at breakfast. A private-car renter could do even better than this if he had plenty of money to spare. He could hire a complete traveling hotel, in the shape of an entire train, consisting of four sleeping cars, a dining car and a buffet smoker. An observation car could be added.
       All this in 1892. The Colorado Midland was led for several years by James J. Hagerman. When he was president of the Midland in 1887, his official car was called "Mountaineer." After he moved to Roswell, New Mexico, in 1890, he obtained his own car, the "Hesperia," and regularly traveled in it. He still owned a fine home here, and his son Percy was a well-known Colorado Springs resident. Hagerman used the Midland yards so often when he traveled here that he even funded construction of a shop building where private cars could be parked indoors. A later Midland business car, built in 1899, the "Cascade," has been restored and it sits in Las Vegas, Nevada. In the 1940s it was up near Cascade.