David E. Steiner
Retired USAF, Teacher, Dad, Grandfather, Curmudgeon
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Modes of Transportation
Probably nothing has changed so much in our mountains over the years as modes of transportation. The first year my family came here for the summer they took a narrow gauge train from Jamestown to Ward and then a White steamer bus, open all around, on the dirt road from Ward to Big Owl Road. It took the better part of the day and they were tired and dirty by the time they arrived.
I expect the residents of Jamestown and Ward would be delighted if that train were still running. But the trains went away, replaced by the Model T Ford, and the rails were finally pulled up as scrap metal, to be melted down and shot at or dropped on the Germans and Japanese in World War II. Today, as you drive from Ward to Nederland, you can still see, just south of Ward, the roadbed winding along the hills to the east of the new highway.
Many of us can still remember when the paved road ended at Peaceful Valley. But today a trip to Boulder is a matter of an hour’s drive in air conditioned comfort, and we have recently been told that the last of the bad curves, at St. Malo and the Aspen Lodge, will next year give way to a wider and straighter highway. Engineered for 50 miles an hour, most will drive it at 60.
Still, we’ve seen something of a return to older ways, as the new highways, and the designation of the Peak to Peak as a Scenic Byway (which we knew all along) make possible the invasion of the bicycles.
Twice this summer we’ve seen huge congregations of them outside the fire station, and eventually we can expect real bike lanes, which will mean more people, but people of a different sort than the ones to which we’ve become so accustomed.
These days, as we drive to Estes Park, we sometimes find the bicyclist annoying, particularly on those sections of the road where the shoulders are narrow, but we try to bear in mind that they don’t pollute the atmosphere, as we do. They take their time and seem to be here pretty much for the same reasons we are; to enjoy the views and the pleasure of taking a day to enjoy our mountains. For a few hours they leave their work and worldly cares and join us here just for reasons of health and aesthetics. They don’t bring very much with them, and many of them leave a few dollars with our local merchants and some Crystal Springs water in their bottles, and very little else to tell of their passage, if you don’t count their photographs and their memories of a day in our valley. Seems like a good trade to me.
© 1985 – 2003, David E. Steiner
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