Steam Engine Fun

Two summers ago I thought it would be neat to go on the Last Chance Train Tour of Helena, Montana. The pictures of the brochure looked like it was a real historic train. Evidently, I wasn’t looking at that brochure all that closely because the train had rubber wheels–plus it was on a road. It was a tram that looked like a train–sort of. A few days before the tour, I did discover my stupidity but we went on the tour anyway since we’re not all that picky. Plus, my son was three- years-old at the time and my dad was with us. There’s no way we could have covered all that ground or learned as much by walking.

Although I mistook that tram for a train, I have been on historic train tours. There were tracks. The most spectacular of the these trips was The Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad train that goes between Durango and Silverton, Colorado. This train has made this particular journey through the mountain passes for more than 125 years. My trip was the one-way trip from Silverton back to Durango, but a two-way trip is probably more common. Silverton is worth poking around for a few hours. It’s a western town that looks western and less busy than Durango.

I’ve also taken the Boone & Scenic Railroad in Boone, Iowa. This train has been around since 1893. Along the way, the conductor points out landmarks and tells about the area history. At the time my son was a year and a half and we were visiting friends. This was a great way to kick back for a few hours without wondering when we’d get somewhere.

Last summer, I took my kids on a very sweet, short train ride. It wasn’t a train, really, but a trolley. It is historic and it runs on tracks. The Platte Valley Trolley is operated soley by volunteers. The first day we tried to take this trip, there wasn’t anyone to drive the trolley so we went back the next day. A huge REI store is right near the trolley station, so if you’re looking to pick up some travel or sports gear, stop in.