This article first appeared in the Broomfield Enterprise (Jan. 18, 2009).
I am one of those people eagerly awaiting a Fastrax line through Broomfield. I envision a stress-free zip up to Denver or downtown Boulder. I’ll sit by the window with a good book and listen to the pleasant clickety-clack. No parking hassles, nobody cutting me off, no traffic jams.
Ironically, this dream I have for a romantic train-filled future was a reality in Broomfield 135 years ago. On April 22, 1873, the Colorado Central Railroad made its first run out of Denver. This local train served Denver, Golden, Louisville, Longmont, and Boulder. In the Broomfield area, the train ran parallel to today’s 36, a bit to the southwest.
In 1873, Colorado was still a territory. Outside of Denver, Boulder, and the mining communities up in the hills, there wasn’t much going on in the region. The land was good for farming, but getting your product to market was another matter. We’re talking horse and wagon across rough land that might or might not offer roads and bridges.
Three years earlier, in 1870, the Denver Pacific Railroad made its first run between Denver and Cheyenne, and the Kansas Pacific Railroad connected Denver with Kansas. These two major railroad lines meant getting between Denver and the country’s major cities was suddenly a lot easier. The town populations grew, and the people needed to be fed. However, according to the Rocky Mountain News, much of the produce consumed in Denver prior to the Colorado Central Railroad was imported from the East Coast.
The Colorado Central changed all that. Suddenly, it became much more feasible to make a living as a farmer in the area. Farms began to spring up in the rich agricultural lands north of Denver. Local producers came to Denver with their eggs, butter, poultry, and vegetables. Early Broomfield farmers like George Pierce and A.C. Goodhue must have been thrilled with the railroad.
George Crofutt, who wrote a travel guide called “Crofutt’s Grip-Sack Guide of Colorado,” recounted a trip he took on the Colorado Central in the early 1880s. He describes the stop at Church’s, which was an old stage stop on the Cherokee Trail in today’s Westminster. From Church’s, the train headed northwest through today’s Broomfield: “Irrigation canals from this point north, for 60 miles, are very numerous and carry large volumes of water, the effect of which is literally ‘making the wilderness bloom like a rose.’ From Church’s we cross another divide, then Rock Creek, and a run of eight miles brings our train to a stop at Louisville…” (From “Broomfield: Changes Through Time,” by Silvia Pettem).
Call me a dreamer, but one day soon, I hope, those of us living in 21st Century Broomfield will have the option of taking a leisurely Sunday afternoon train into Denver for a visit to the museum and perhaps, afterward, a nice spot of tea.