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Platte Valley Trolley 7/16/2016

by Chris Guenzler

We got up at 5:05 AM at the Ponderosa Ranch and I had my donuts and Orange Juice before I packed up. Chris Parker was up next and then Robin Bowers was the last to rise. We loaded the car, closed all the windows and took the trash with us. It took twenty minutes to drive from the cabin to NE Highway 71. We took that to Scottsbluff where we had breakfast at MacDonald's inside Walmart. After breakfast we crossed the BNSF tracks and saw a station building. We went down to investigate.

The CB&Q Scottsbluff station. After that we crossed the Union Pacific tracks and had to make another stop.

Union Pacific 2-8-0 423 on display in Scottsbluff. We drove further down this road and stopped again.

Union Pacific caboose 24534.

Scottsbluffs. From here we took NE 71 turning in CO 71 to CO 14 to CO 52 to Fort Morgan where we showed Chris Parker the Great Western steam engine on display. Elizabeth Alkire called saying she had landed safely and would meet us at Denver Union Station. We gassed up the car and drove straight to Denver Union Station and picked up Elizabeth. We drove to the REI Store and parked underground. We came up and I led the way to our next stop on this trip.

The Platte Valley Trolley

The Platte Valley Trolley is an heritage streetcar line in Denver, Colorado, operated by the Denver Tramway Heritage Society. It began service on July 4, 1989.

Route and operation

The trolley line originates in Confluence Park, the historic location where the city of Denver was founded, at the confluence of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek River. The trolley is located at approximately 1400 Platte Street, Denver, CO, 80202, behind REI's flagship store. Visitors can reach the trolley from Platte Street or from 15th Street in downtown Denver.

In 2015, the operating season started on Friday, May 22. The trolley operates on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays, through Labor Day (September 7), with the first run leaving Confluence Park at 11:30 AM and the last run of the day leaving at 4:30 PM. In addition, the trolley will operate on holidays (Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day), and at special events, including Children's Museum of Denver First Tuesdays, the South Platte River Festival, Denver Broncos home games, and the annual Rocky Mountain Showdown between Colorado State University and the University of Colorado.

Tickets are priced at $5 for adults and $2 for children, and may be purchased from the trolley motorman or conductor (transportation) at any of the trolley's stops (REI/Confluence Park, Downtown Aquarium, or Children's Museum of Denver).

The line runs south (upriver) on the west side of the Platte River to Lakewood Gulch. Prior to 2007, the line continued west along Lakewood Gulch (approximately West 13th Avenue) and ran on the old interurban shortline tracks of the Denver and Intermountain Railroad to Sheridan Boulevard. The line currently stops near where RTD built their new west corridor of the FasTracks light rail project, which opened on April 26, 2013. Future plans for the trolley include expansion into the planned redevelopment of Lower Colfax. On April 22, 2013, the Denver City Council approved the Sun Valley Neighborhood Decatur-Federal Station Area Plan; as part of the redevelopment of Lower Colfax, the Platte Valley Trolley will be extended all the way to the Decatur-Federal Light Rail Station.

The line passes a number of historic and tourist attractions, including the Children's Museum, the Downtown Aquarium, Sports Authority Field at Mile High (home of the Denver Broncos) and Elitch Gardens, and views of the Denver skyline are visible all through the 25-minute narrated historical tour.

The Platte Valley Trolley recalls the open car streetcars of an earlier era in Denver, which at one point in the history of Denver was the primary means of transportation throughout the city. In circa 1920, there were a group of six "Seeing Denver" streetcars that traversed the rails. A number of buildings in Denver, though currently re-purposed, were once key structures in the trolley system, and many retain their original signage. Today, in addition to regular operations, the Platte Valley Trolley is available for charters and special tours. More information can be found at the Platte Valley Trolley website.

Rolling stock

The Platte Valley Trolley operates a 1986 replica of a 1903 Brill open streetcar. The frame and steel components of the car used in the construction are from a 1924 Melbourne, Australia streetcar. The car was made by the Gomaco Trolley Company in Ida Grove, Iowa. An on-board Cummins 6BT diesel electric generator provides the 600 volts d.c. for the four Metropolitan-Vickers traction motors and other accessories.

Our Trip

The trolley returning to its boarding location. I bought Elizabeth and my tickets with both Chris and Robin buying their own. Once all was ready, I got to say "All Aboard!" and we started our trip.

Two views of Elitch Gardens Amusement Park.

The Pepsi Center which is home to the Denver Nuggets and the Colorado Avalanche.

Elitch Gardens Amusement Park.

Our conductor and motorwoman.

Sports Authority Field at Mile High and Home of the NFL Champion Denver Broncos.

The South Platte River.

Two more views of the Elitch Gardens Amusement Park.

The South Platte River.

One more view of the Elitch Gardens Amusement Park.

Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

The Denver Skyline.

Swallow's nests under a bridge.

Bucky Bronco can be seen on the Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium.

The Comcast Studios at the Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

The Downtown Aquarium was passed by and we went back to the loading area at REI.

Views of the trolley that took us on our trip. We all returned to my car and we drove to Colorado Springs to our next stop.