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World Famous Tiny Town & Railroad 7/11/2016

by Chris Guenzler

Robin and I left the Ramada Inn and filled the car with petrol before driving Interstate 25 to Colorado Highway 470 to US 285 west to Turkey Creek Road to our first destination of the day.

Tiny Town & Railroad

I used to see this place years ago in the Tourist Trains Book, then searched for it on the Internet and found it still existed. I contacted them in May via the telephone in order to write a story about their railroad.

Tiny Town's Long History

Like most Colorado mountain towns, Tiny Town has had its share of boom and bust cycles. Currently enjoying a period of growing interest from Colorado families, and stable, non-profit stewardship, Tiny Town is growing again as we look forward to our 100-year anniversary.

Here's a timeline of major events in Tiny Town history

1915 On the location of the Denver-Leadville Stage Coach Station George Turner begins building Turnerville to entertain his young daughter. Turnerville was the precursor of Tiny Town.

1920 Turnerville grows large enough to be open to the public.

1924 The beginning of Tiny Town's heyday. It included 125 buildings with a grocery store, barber shop, two lakes, pool room, hotel, school and church. The town also boasted a genuine pueblo structure with Indians from a New Mexico reservation. During this period, 20,000 persons per year drove up hazardous dirt mountain roads from Denver to view this magnificent site.

1927 By this time Tiny Town had become as well known as Buffalo Bill's Grave and Pike's Peak. The project outgrew George Turner's spare time and he sold out.

1929 Flood damages Tiny Town.

1932 Another flood damages Tiny Town.

1935 A disastrous fire destroys the Indian pueblo and all the principal buildings of Tiny Town. Fortunately, the miniature businesses and residences were untouched by the flames.

1948 Model of filling station (gas station)A stroke of the pen may have been more devastating to Tiny Town than these floods and fires. On January 28, 1948, plans were approved to reroute Highway 285 from in front of Tiny Town. This took it from the everyday view of those who used 285.

1965 The Given and Turner families (no relation to George) restore Tiny Town.

1966 Tiny Town closes and is put up for sale; no buyers were found.

1969 A disastrous flood destroys Tiny Town, leaving a nightmarish, debris-strewn ghost town.

1972 Lyle Fulkerson, model train buff and master mechanic, begins another Tiny Town restoration. This project involved the entire Fulkerson family and included a zoning change, widening and deepening of Turkey Creek, and regrading of the railroad bed.

1977 Lyle Fulkerson is killed by a runaway train car on his way to Tiny Town.

1978 Tiny Town closes and falls into disrepair.

1980 Four families again decide to reopen Tiny Town, this time including pony rides and a puppet theater.

1983 Tiny Town again is closed to the public.

1987 The Northern Colorado Chapter of the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM), a trade group made up of professional property managers, adopts Tiny Town as a civic project and pledges to revive the remaining structures. Lots in Tiny Town are leased at public auction, raising $6,000 for The Children's Museum in Denver. Winning bidders pledge to rebuild individual houses to original specifications. This rebuilding of Tiny Town is professionally planned and managed using the strict guidelines IREM encourages from its members.

1988 Volunteers returned 50 refurbished or new structures to the site. Tiny Town reopened July 4th with 11,000 visitors that weekend. Due to this enthusiastic public reception, it was decided to extend hours to weekends through Labor Day. There were also 40 lots sold for new buildings to be returned in 1989.

1989 Members of IREM and other volunteers establish THE TINY TOWN FOUNDATION, a non-profit corporation, to operate the town on a day-to-day basis while ensuring the village's long-term success. Over 60,000 people visit Tiny Town's 65 structures in 1989.

1990 Tiny Town now boasts over 80 colorful structures for its 75th Anniversary Season. With half the track completed by opening day, Tiny Town had The World Famous Tiny Town Railway in operation by midsummer.

1991 This year proved to be the most successful year in Tiny Town's history with over 90 buildings and three operating trains. 100,069 people came to enjoy the park.

2011 Several buildings built back the 1920s by Tiny Town's founder, George Turner, were discovered in a nearby property and donated to Tiny Town. After restoration, they were placed on display in a new exhibit area called Turnerville.

2012 A new locomotive is commissioned for Tiny Town.

2014 Locomotive number 12, the Mary Ross, is placed in service.

Our visit and ride

Burlington Northern caboose 12210 built by Pacific Car and Foundry in 1978.

Looking into Tiny Town.

Tiny Town is 100 Years old!

The Tiny Town Roundhouse. I walked into the open gate and met Stan the engineer who found the lady I contacted and we went into the roundhouse and met Dennis the conductor.

The brand new 2-6-6 15" gauge 12 "Mary Ross" built by Uhrich Locomotive Works in Strasburg, Colorado, in which would pull our train here this morning.

The Thomas the Tank Engine car.

Dennis pushed out the steam engine 2-6-0 10 "Cinder Belle", built by Uhrich Locomotive Works.

"Mary Ross" is ready to reverse onto the train. I was invited to ride the on top of the tender amd we started reversing the engine to the car house. Sit back and enjoy the views of Tiny Town.

The views from the roundhouse to the car barn.

This engine has only been run a few times over the years.

Rio Grande 1087 "Betsy". Now we will ride back to the station.

That was the ride back to the station. Now I will show you the buildings of Tiny Town.

Some of the buildings of Tiny Town.

Click here for Part 2 of this story!