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Sunday, December 5, 2021


 Post by Doris McCraw

writing as Angela Raines

Photo property of the author

As the Holiday season of Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, The New Year comes barreling toward us, I thought it might be interesting to see what was happening in the world of travel in Colorado on December 5 prior to 1900. Even back in 1881, they were enticing people to travel, go home, see old friends. This appeared at the beginning of an article about the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad. 

The Gunnison Daily Democrat
December 5, 1881

Yet, just ten years earlier, on December 5, 1871, travel all but stopped coming into Colorado. According to an article in the Rocky Mountain News about 'The Great Storm':

All the railroads are in a very bad condition. The following is a current account of affairs up to midnight last night, as nearest could be obtained.

In regard to the Union Pacific troubles we have it from good authority that no trains from either direction have reached Cheyenne since Saturday. Three engines and the snowplow are in the ditch forty miles east of Cheyenne, near to Pine Bluffs, and two large ten–wheeled engines are in the ditch seven miles east of Cheyenne, near Archer's Tree. Three engines on a passenger train are in the ditch Coopers Lake, eighty-two miles west of Cheyenne. All trains on the road, east and west, are abandoned until the storm abates. There was no train out of Omaha Sunday, but one started Monday afternoon, and it has been laid up.

The Denver Pacific trains are all between Denver and Cheyenne. The passenger train leaving here Monday morning, started out with two engines and a large snowplow, and found no troubles till it reached Crow Creek, two miles south of Cheyenne. The train had been up to midnight, between Crow Creek and Cheyenne since about 1:45 yesterday afternoon. It was blowing and drifting so that Colonel Fisher, who went out with this train, had to quit work until the wind abated. They took the passengers from the train to Cheyenne in carriages.

The Boulder Valley trains, which left Hughes, coming south, 440 yesterday afternoon, had not reached Denver at midnight. It was supposed that they were not far from here, were having any amount of troubles with snow and ice.

The freight leaving here yesterday morning, left their train at Carr and started north with engines to help the passenger, but at last accounts it was "stuck."

The Kansas Pacific passenger do Sunday morning and the one due at Wallace last night, were both at Ellsworth at midnight. The passenger train on this road, leaving Denver Saturday and Sunday nights were at Wallace last night. Because of this delay is, to engines with the snowplow off the track at Wilson, waiting for a wrecking train to, to their assistance. The storm would not have detained the train any. A passenger train was sent West from Wallace on time last night and one was set east. Three freight trains arrived in Denver from Hugo yesterday, bringing 18 loaded cars. This road is all clear between Denver and Wallace.

By December 5, 1891, the Pueblo paper was advertising the idea of "A Winter In the South". The article talks of going to Texas and ends with the following:

An escape from all the pains and discomforts of our rigorous weather, transported by magic from the regions of snow and ice, to the fragrance of this summer – land is now made possible and easy by the Denver, Texas and Fort Worth branch of the Union Pacific system, which runs through Pullman Palace sleepers, between Denver, Fort Worth, Dallas, Shreveport, and New Orleans, and offers exceedingly low excursion rates to all the southern cities from Denver, Pueblo, Colorado Springs and Trinidad. For a full description of Southern winter resorts, reached over the Union Pacific system, for excursion rates, apply to E. R. Harding, general agent, 233 North Union Ave. or Union Depot Pueblo, Colorado Wednesday and Saturday.

Even back over a hundred years ago, traveling, getting away was something people dreamed of. Yet, like all travel, there were setbacks.

I do hope you enjoyed the travel back in time. History never seems to fail to give us perspective when we look. 

Doris Gardner-McCraw -
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History


  1. I really didn't think people went south for the winter that far back. This was fascinating, and taught me something. Thanks for posting.

    1. Neither did I think about wintering in the south until I read the article. I always learn so much when I delve into these old newspapers. I just love it and I'm glad others enjoy this tidbits also. Doris

  2. Fascinating clips from articles, Doris. Reading them, I can understand why the appeal of going south for winter was so strong!
    Many thanks for sharing

    1. Even though I don't mind some snow, the cold does get to me sometimes, and those occasional blizzards, not thanks. (Smile) Doris

  3. Sorry I missed this earlier. So interesting to learn that people who could afford it went south for the winter way back then. Thanks for your post.

    1. My pleasure, Ann. This type of research just makes me happy and I do find some of the most interesting pieces of information. I didn't think about going south that early either. Doris

  4. Fascinating blog about problems with train travel in the winter back then--and I am certain in present day as well. I imagine Colorado, and all the north Midwest for that matter, as frozen, impassable places. Bbrrr! I'm cold just thinking about those cold places.
    Happy holidays, Doris!

    1. Happy Holidays to you too, Sarah. I find it fascinating is the weather can be so diverse here in Colorado. Where I live is high plains desert, and we get very little snow and our average winter daytime temps are in the 40s and 50s, yet go twenty minutes up the pass and you hit snow and colder weather. Even going north to Denver the weather can be competely different. Gotta love it. Doris