LC&SLeadville Colorado & Southern Railroad 1987 to present
LMBLeadville Mineral Belt Railway 1898-1900
MTMidland Terminal Railway Co. 1894-1949
NPNorthern Pacific Railroad
RGSRio Grande Southern Railroad 1889-1952
RGWRio Grande Western Railway
UPUnion Pacific Railroad 1867 to present
UPD&G Union Pacific, Denver & Gulf Railway Co. 1890-1898
Welcome aboard Colorado's newest passenger railroad, the Leadville, Colorado & Southern (LC&S). For the next few hours, enjoy a leisurely ride on the grade of the former Denver, South Park & Pacific Railroad (DSP&P). The fabled "South Park," also called the "Seldom Punctual," was chartered in 1873.
Construction started from Denver in 1874 and track finally reached Leadville in 1884. The route selected by the DSP&P meandered:back and forth, crossing the Continental Divide twice before reaching Leadville, the highest incorporated city in Colorado. One hundred and four years later, the LC&S began carrying passengers on the remaining South Park track between Leadville and Climax.
The LC &S leaves the Leadville depot, elevation 10,200 feet, and gradually climbs a little over 900 feet along the southern side of the upper Arkansas River Valley almost to the summit of Fremont Pass. The route winds through beautiful aspen, lodgepole pine, spruce and fir forests. Travel is slow enough that wildflowers growing along the track may be thoroughly enjoyed, especially during July and August. Other delights of the trip are chances to see deer, elk, coyotes, marmots, rabbits, ground squirrels, pikas, and chipmunks.
Spectacular views of the glaciated upper Arkansas Valley and the high peaks of the Continental Divide make for many photographic opportunities. The open pit of the world's largest molybdenum mine at Climax is also visible from an unusual perspective. Abandoned mine dumps and prospectors' holes left from the mining boom of earlier years stand as forbidding reminders of Leadville's rich heritage.
Between 1884 and 1937, trains carried passengers back and forth to Denver on narrow gauge coaches, and freight trains carried gold and silver ore, coal, lumber, supplies, food and molybdenum concentrates. After 1937, the C&S carried molybdenum concentrates in wooden barrels assembled at Climax. Later, bulk cars and 55 gallon drums were used. Supplies shipped to Climax included bulk cars of caustic, pebbles for grinding (from France and Texas), mining equipment, sodium silicate, pine oil and Dow froth. This traffic lasted until October, 1986, when the last run from Climax was made.
So step back in history and enjoy your trip on the LC&S Railroad, the last remaining section of the old "South Park."
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