I first stepped into Denver at Union Station. A group of families had taken the train out from Chicago for a ski vacation, and the kids had commandeered the dome car -- where, early the next morning, we woke to our first glimpse of the mountains. By breakfast, we'd pulled into Union Station -- and I was hooked.
We got off the train, ran down the steps by the tracks, then through the pedestrian tunnel of the old train station and out into Denver. Even at that time, in the mid-'60s, the area was decidedly gritty. We looked at the old buildings, climbed up and around the still-standing 16th Street Viaduct, breathed air that seemed much thinner and drier than what we were used to in Chicago. Then we ran back into the station to get on the Yampa Valley Mail, which would take us up to Winter Park.
Those early memories of Union Station are still strong. So when I heard that the station would be closing after January 31, with Amtrak trains using a temporary station for several years while the Union Station redevelopment project was completed -- a redevelopment that will close the pedestrian tunnel forever -- I zoomed through the cold last night to see the last passengers come in through that tunnel.
Not surprisingly, the train from the West was hours late. Also not surprisingly, the station closing had been postponed: It's now slated for February 4, a delay blamed on the bitter cold. Good idea.
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By the way, the temporary station at 21st and Wewatta streets is billed as only being three blocks away. I count six. And today, every step is going to count.
Even if you're just traveling through your memories.
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