Friday, November 30, 2012

Planes at Lowry and Train History in Strasburg, CO

I found myself with time on my hands today as I had gone over the authorized 40 hours of billable time on my present contract.  What to do, what to do?

As you probably guessed, I went riding.  Another beautifully sunny day here in Colorado and I decided it was Yoshie's turn for some exercise.  Yoshie, is my 2006 Suzuki DL1000 V-Strom/Dauntless Sidecar Rig aka "Hirohito's Revenge", a name given to her by Mr Jack Riepe of Twisted Roads fame.

The original thought in my brain was to cruise over to Harbor Freight to peruse their tools and gadgets but upon nearing the destination, Yoshie spoke to me and we continued past this purveyor of cheap tools and equipment and continued on towards the old site of Lowry Air Force Base.

I cruised about the gentrified and still new looking housing and apartment complexes that have sprung up in the land once used by the air force and also the old Denver airport.  It's quite nice actually, they've done a nice job of spiffing up the place.

Located in one of the two large remaining aircraft hangars left over from the air force days, is the Wings over the Rockies Aircraft Museum.  This museum is quite well stocked with vintage aircraft displays and a great way to spend a few hours when in Denver.  I'd visited this museum before with my sons, and today it was just a brief stop for some pictures of the B-52 Stratofortress Bomber located outside the museum's main entrance.

 Yoshie looks quite diminutive next to this huge aircraft

I wandered the area around the two hangars, one being the part of the museum as I'd mentioned before and the other now converted to commercial storage facilities.  Located next to the air museum though, were three glider trailers, one of which was uncovered to reveal this glider in "travel mode".

Pretty cool way to take one's glider "on the road" don't you think?

Next, Yoshie continued speaking to me, urging me slightly west of Lowry where we'd seen the golden dome of the Greek Orthodox Church on previous transits of the area near the intersection of Alameda and Leetsdale.  

 Greek Orthodox Church Dome

After the church, Yoshie decided we should head east now towards the small town of Strasburg, CO.  It's located near the I-70 Super Slab east of the Denver Metro Area.  Yoshie and I avoided the super slab by using CO36 which parallels the slab beginning just east of the E-470/I-70 junction.

The objective at Strasburg was to located and photograph the memorial marker where according to the Comanche Crossing Historical Society and Museum:

On August 15, 1870, the last 10¼ miles of track were laid by two crews, one working from the east and one from the west in a record-breaking nine hours.

Fifteen months earlier, the golden spike ceremony had been held in Utah, to note the joining by rail of the eastern United States with the west. But the tracks joined at Promontory Summit connected only Omaha and Sacramento in a continuous chain. 

With the completion of the rails at Strasburg it became possible, at last, to board a train in New York and travel all the way to San Francisco by rail.

So there, in spite of what you were told from the history books, the real joining of the country by a continuous railroad line was at a barely marked point in the little town of Strasburg, Colorado!

I first stopped at the museum on the west side of Strasburg, thinking the marker would be there, given its historical significance.  Nope, but there were several displays of old railroad equipment and such to be had even though the museum buildings themselves were closed.  Turns out the museum is only open July through August.

Ye Olde train station in Strasburg, located on the site
of the museum complex of buildings.

You'd think the above sign would be next to the marker 
wouldn't you?  Nope, it was further east.

After wandering through town a bit, I finally stumbled onto a street called Railroad Street.  "I bet..." said Yoshie: "that the marker is somewhere around here".  Dutifully, I turned her onto railroad street.  We first spotted this abandoned rail car on a side rail spur:

The railcar has seen better days, signs of vandalism were evident.

Continuing west on Railroad Street, past what looked like an old maintenance yard for the U&P and some old stores and a motel, Yoshie and I happened on Lyons Park and found the marker! 

At Lyons Park in Strasburg, CO

Quite the unremarkable marker don't you think?  I guess its an indicator of how the more publicized and reported event at Promontory Summit in Utah overshadowed the event that is part of Strasburg's history.

Riding once again past the U&P Railroad Maintenance Yard, Yoshie had me stop for a picture of this old train equipment towing engine:

Being in an old train maintenance yard, I assume it's something used to pull
railroad equipment.  For all I know though, it's just an old tractor.

I left quaint old Strasburg and its train history behind me as Yoshie led the way home via county roads both paved and unpaved.  There were times she was "feeling her oats" as we motored smoothly along dirt roads at higher speeds than what I am used to on the Ural, leaving a big plume of dust in our wake.

Got home shortly before the rest of the family came home from school.  A good day of mild wandering, with Yoshie speaking to me as we went.  In case you're wondering about all this conversations I was having with my sidecar rig, check out Jack Riepe's new book: "Conversations with a Motorcycle", you'll then understand.  

I was fortunate to get an early review copy of this book, my review is here: LINK


Gary France said...

Great pictures of the planes Dom. Your reporting of conversations with your motorcycle made me sit back, look out of my office window at my detached garage, to where the Leading Ladies are currently sleeping. Despite their grandeur and elegant ways, I am sure they would be saying to me "It's friggin' freezing out here, turn the damn heating on!"

Yet again I applaud you for getting out on your bike, while the rest of us in the northern hemisphere fail to ride once again due to the weather.

redlegsrides said...

Thanks Gary but its been so warm here and such a dearth of snow, it's no challenge to ride here at present....