Last week my son G- and I went to Golden to visit one of my favorite places, the Colorado Railroad Museum. There are tons of trains in various states of repair (and disrepair) on the many acres of this museum and it’s a great place for kids to climb around and generally get a bit of the train bug. It’s also in Coors town, so it’s not far to drive for a beer after wandering trains for a dusty afternoon, but that’s another story!
What many people probably don’t ever see, however, is the model train layout in the basement of the museum building maintained by the Denver train club (and various others, I don’t recall).
Sure, I could show you pictures of the “train layout” but I was more interested in the incredibly good job that the model makers have done portraying an idyllic early Colorado.
The Museum’s Web site doesn’t even do justice to this terrific, huge layout. On the site, it simply says:
“Be sure to visit the lower level, which is home to the Denver HO Society’s “Denver and Western” large operating model train layout. Open to the public until 9:00 PM on the first Thursday of each month, it features HO, HOn3 and electrics that represent Colorado rail history in miniature.”
(actually, I’m not sure what “HOn3” is, but a quick Google can tell me, I’m sure. And sure enough, Wikipedia explains that it’s the familiar HO-gauge model trains, but also modeling narrow 3′ tracks rather than the wider standard rail widths)
Without further ado, here we go, a visual tour of what Colorado might well have looked like in the early 1900’s…
What I find most interesting about this picture are the model controls on the top left. Otherwise it’s a bit of a puzzle: what are those big red spools?
A fire in the old days was not only quite concerning (with all-wood buildings. See “Great San Francisco Fire of 1906” if you don’t know how dangerous a fire could be in a wooden city!) but a spectator event too. Note particularly the guys sitting on the roof of the building across the street from the fire, watching.
Look closely at all these cars. To my eyes there’s a bit of a problem with what’s parked on the street and how new they all are, especially the modern-style Volkswagon Beetle, but still, it’s a bucolic setting, isn’t it?
A nice town center, and what’s amusing is that the clock in the clock tower actually does tell you the current time (check it out when you visit). My guess? Someone sacrificed a wrist watch. Quite a bit easier and less expensive than a real clock in the main tower of town, somehow.
This view’s particularly interesting because what at first view appears to be snow is actually the building material, just not yet painted to match the rest of the scenery. Looking closely you can see just what a great job they’re doing matching a complex set of colors and patterns to have things blend in nicely, not to mention a great job of texturing it all.
Finally, the tiny town stuck up in the Rocky Mountains doesn’t have wide streets, lots of pedestrians or anything like that. But what it does have are classic Western facades on buildings abutting a sheer rock face.
All in all, I really like miniatures like this, and this massive model never fails to engage my imagination, as well as my son’s too. It’s like a great 3D “where’s Waldo” game too, with many amusing tiny details tucked away behind trees, on sides of buildings or even on rock faces.
If you’re near Golden, check it out with your kids. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.