Railroad aficionados and history fans saw something special coming down the rails this weekend. On Aug. 11, Lakewood rolled out Historic Car No. 25, …
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Railroad aficionados and history fans saw something special coming down the rails this weekend.
On Aug. 11, Lakewood rolled out Historic Car No. 25, one of the last remnants of an interurban rail system that connected Denver with Golden and Boulder. The city brings the car out once a year for rides and to let people get up close to the piece of history.
The rail line used to run along 14th Avenue, where the new light rail is being built, according to Michelle Nierling, heritage, culture and arts manager for the city. Car No. 25 ran the 13-mile line between Denver and Golden, with stops in Lakewood, from 1911 until 1950, when the system was shut down.
In 1988 the Rocky Mountain Railroad Club Historical Foundation began a project to restore and maintain the car, since it is the last, fully intact, electric railway car in the area that dates to that era.
The project involved more than 500 donors and 96 volunteers who worked on the car.
Darrell Arndt is one of the initial volunteers, and has worked with the car ever since. He now serves as project manager for the restoration. Arndt said he has always been interested in all aspects of the railroad, and got involved in the Rocky Mountain Railroad Club. From there, it was an easy step to working on Car No. 25.
“The restoration has continued for more than 20 years,” he said. “The car was never dramatically altered, and when it was bought it came with all its parts, which has been great for us.”
In 2009 the car was nearly sold to a group outside of the Lakewood-Denver area, and Nierling said that’s when citizens rallied to save the car and keep it in the area.
The car was purchased and is now housed at the Federal Center, while restoration work continues and a permanent home is found.
Now the car belongs to the city’s heritage, culture and arts division, and money is being raised to build a museum dedicated to Car No. 25 and the transit history of the entire region.
“Having the annual open house with the car has two major goals — the first is to give people an opportunity to see the car, which might inspire them to get involved in the project,” Nierling said. “The second is to get people to help us be able to build the transit museum.”
On Saturday visitors were able to take a 10-minute ride on the car on the tracks set up at the
“Everyone is always blown away by the restoration,” Nierling said. “Seeing and riding the car, it’s almost like a step back in time.”
For more information on Car No. 25, go online to www.lakewood.org/historictransit.
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