Colorado has so many amazing tourist attractions, it is hard to pick one to talk about. We are always looking for the unusual, out of the way tourist spots. If you enjoy getting out in nature and viewing majestic vistas with abundant wildlife, Colorado is a great place to start. Colorado is also an amazing place to hear history, both railroad history and the history of the mines in this area. If you’re interested in wildlife and in the history of the area, there’s no better place to start than the Georgetown Loop Railroad. The Georgetown Loop Railroad covers Colorado history with breathtaking views of some of the most picturesque sites in central Colorado.
What Is The Georgetown Loop?
While much of Colorado’s tourism centers on nature, and the tourist attractions were added in later, the Georgetown Loop train began as a tourist attraction over 143 years ago. Before that time, people who wanted to view the Rocky Mountains west of Denver had to settle for taking a train as far west as they could and hoping for a view of majestic mountains such as Mount Evans and Mount Bierstadt, which stood over 14,000 feet high. In the early 1870s, railroad men had the idea to build a railroad that could ferry tourists to these immense mountains to take in the view.
At the same time, silver was being discovered in mines in the area, such as Georgetown, Silver Plume and Grant, Colorado, which was situated close to Geneva Creek and Guanella Pass. People needed a way to move the silver that was being discovered in the area to markets both east and west of Georgetown, which was called the “Silver Queen” for a time because of all the silver in the area.
One of the men who got rich off the silver and other metals in the area, William Loveland, partnered with titan Jay Gould to pay for a railroad that could handle tourism and mining at the same time. The problem with a railroad near Georgetown were the heights of the mountains and the steep grades into the passes, such as Loveland Pass, named after the old 49er, and the highest pass in central Colorado. All of the passes made creating a railroad difficult if not impossible because of the grade. However, engineers figured out a way to reduce the railroad grade with a series of curves and bridges, which allowed engines to climb the mountain passes.
The Georgetown Loop Railroad allowed tourists to view the breathtaking scenery from dizzying heights, as well as take in the mining history of the area. Tourists flocked to the area to take in the sights–at least for a while.
Death and Revival
Sadly, the Georgetown Loop Railroad was not going to last forever. With the advent of car travel, profits in tourism for trains plummeted. The railroad closed in 1938 due to the effects of car travel and the Great Depression. The last of the mines closed during World War II, because there was no one to work in them, and the silver was running out. It looked as if the railroad and the towns that surrounded it would float away into history.
However, with the 100th anniversary of silver discoveries in the area in the 1950s came the longing for renewed tourism in the Clear Creek area. Citizens and government officials in the area of Georgetown decided to ask for land donations and old mine claims, and a lot of people willingly donated the land to revive the railroad system, as well as tourism to the silver mines. By 1973, Union Pacific Railroad donated the tracks and trains for the effort, and the first part of the Georgetown Loop Railroad was up and running.
The Railroad Loop As A Tourist Attraction
In the nearly 50 years that have passed since the Georgetown Loop Railroad revived itself, the railroad has added a lot of attractions that you really need to see. The railroad has special events all throughout the year. The normal route for the train is from Georgetown to Silver Plume, but you can get on the train at either Silver Plume or Georgetown to ride.
The Georgetown Loop offers a lot of special rides during the summer and fall seasons when it is open and operating. There are special rides and amenities for both Mother’s and Father’s Days. If you want to ride the railroad to see the fall color in the Rockies, there’s a train for that, as well as special photography trains. Spooky train rides abound for Halloween, and there is a special Santa train during the Christmas season. There are special trains for the Wild West Days as well, with period costumes to revive the look and feel of the old west.
The Georgetown Loop train also offers mine tours as part of a train package. There are two different mines to explore. If you want to pan for gold or silver, you can do that as well–who knows, maybe you’ll strike it rich while you’re on the tour. There are amazing mine tunnels to explore, with stalactites over 1000 years old.
The Georgetown Loop Train has different seating to suit everyone’s taste. If you are traveling with your family at the height of summer, and your children love the outdoors, we suggest you try the ride from the coach. The coach ride has the top of the car open, which means you get to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. You can also take spectacular pictures of the mountain passes on the ride.
If you are looking for a more luxurious ride, we’d like to suggest the parlor cars. Parlor cars are enclosed, with plush seating, as well as food and beverage service. The views of the mountains are exquisite while you are sipping a glass of wine. During the Christmas holidays, you may want to opt for the Waldorf car, which is only used at that time. The Waldorf car will outfit you with your own attendant and offers specialty drinks and snacks during the ride. You even get a golden ticket to take home with you as a keepsake for a treasured memory.
Love the idea of seeing Central Colorado from a train car? So do we! Be sure and check out the Georgetown Loop Railroad for a view of Colorado from days gone by. If you’re looking for someone who is knowledgeable about the history of central Colorado, this is the spot.