COBWEB CORNERS: Her first ride on the Wild Flower Train
By Mel McFarland
I still blink when I see a woman running a big diesel train. I know, I know, but the sight of one in the cab of a steamer 100 years ago was really turning heads. I have told you about the one who spotted herself at the very front of the engine under the headlight, and rode up the pass like that, in the DARK! Well, this one was not that brave! She was a reporter from the Denver Post, and someone had managed to get her a ride in the cab of the engine pulling the Wild Flower train. The following is in Alice Lambert's words:
"I occupied the seat of honor beside the engineer who pulled the Wildflower train out of Colorado Springs last Thursday, and after seven hours of unearthly noises, vistas of canyons, landscapes and tunnels coming to meet us, frankly I was glad to plant my feet on terra firma again."
"Going up Ute Pass, which begins at Manitou and extends to Woodland Park, we plunged through tunnel after tunnel. These great holes are cut through solid granite and the wonderful ingenuity and expanse of mountain railroad building became apparent to the impractical mind of a female person. 'Clear the track,' shouted the engineer to a black horse that pranced onto the rails. But the warning was not intelligible or was not couched in equine terms, for the animal continued to pace along in front of the engine, so we slowed down and in a few minutes he got off the track, dashed down the hillside, only to return in a few minutes to repeat the performance. The animal eventually tired of its exercise."
She was impressed by the fireman's steady shoveling coal into the firebox and the engineer's sharp observation of the track ahead, then "POW!" As the train topped the summit at Divide, a shot was heard. "My feminine nerves, usually strong, nearly failed me when the sound of a torpedo on the track warned of danger ahead. Just below Divide there was a wash out. We crawled over the tracks at a snail's pace. I think a simultaneous sigh of relief burst from the three of us when the place was past. If great oaks from little acorns grow, so do terrible wrecks from insignificant washouts grow." She survived her trip, and learned a great deal from the unusual ride.