COBWEB CORNERS: Fewer train cars in yards nowadays
By Mel McFarland
I'm a “train guy.” It goes back to when I was a kid living near the Midland tracks. I even own a caboose (which used to be the last car on a freight train until railroads decided electronics could do the job and put the conductor with the engineer at the front of the train). But some other people have railroad cars too.
There was an interesting passenger car that had been built in 1894 for the narrow-gauge railroad between Florence and Cripple Creek. That railroad closed in 1912, but the car was used in the Cripple Creek District until the 1930s, and then it was fixed to run on the Midland. After 1949, when the railroad was being sold off, the car was moved up along South 26th Street. It was there until the 1980s when some guys from Nebraska bought it and restored it for a little railroad near Hastings.
Another railroad car used to be in the alley in the 2400 block of West Bijou Street. It was moved by the local streetcar group, and the last I saw it was in Antonito, where the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad wants to restore it.
A lot of area yards once had boxcars from the Midland, but most are gone now. Several garages in the area along Bott used to have boxcar doors, but most have been replaced. Up in the mountains, some of the old flat cars were turned into bridges! One of the cabooses was in a coal yard, but it is long gone. Over near the Amarillo Motel, there was a car that was used on the Midland's Wildflower Excursions up to Eleven Mile Canyon. Another caboose was at the gravel pit down toward Security. There was even a railroad car diner on North Nevada and the lady that ran it was named McFarland - no known connection with me that I know. There is a Colorado Midland business car at a casino in Las Vegas that for years was stored near the end of South 9th street.
It is fun finding old railroad cars, but sad when they are scrapped. Like the one near the current Midland School that was actually two box cars, one on top of the other!