Off Track
Stuart Steers's June 20 article on the proposed Southern Pacific/Union Pacific merger, "Whistle Stopped," is an interesting mix of old-time nostalgia and economic fantasia. What Mr. Steers completely ignores is that the Southern Pacific is the walking wounded of American railroads that has recently had its crutches removed by the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe merger. The plain, simple fact is that this railroad is going down without the billions Union Pacific will invest to modernize and upgrade the ailing SP. In short, no merger means losing 16,411 miles of track and 19,000 jobs instead of just a few. Mr. Steers should have read the annual report.

It would seem Mr. Steers would have us destroy a valuable part of our transportation infrastructure (and the industries and farmers that depend on it) in order to avoid facing the realities of the present. Change comes at a price, but so does stagnation and decay. When we changed from coal-fired steam engines to more efficient diesel, it came at a price. When railroads were deregulated, we gave up old-time traditions like fixed rates and poor rates of return. But in their place, we have a thriving, growing railroad industry that has reduced the real cost of freight transportation, improved service, and has become the world standard for efficiency and profitability. Without change, we would have far higher transportation costs and tens of thousands more trucks crowding our roads and polluting our skies.

Is Anschutz making a mint? Yes! (I wish I had his investment smarts.) But I'd rather he pay taxes on profits than have the rest of us pay to support a railroad on welfare. Remember the Penn Central?

Avery Grimes

Rest of the Best
I received a call from Denver Urban Gardens and was told that I got the Best Elephant award in Westword's Best of Denver issue on June 27. You did a great job of researching the park and the history. But! Who built the elephant? I worked for three weeks building that elephant. I sustained many barbed-wire stabs. It was not only a labor of love, but one of blood with blisters! I donated a lot of my time to build this elephant, and all I had hoped for was a little media recognition. Alas, this was not to be.

Calvin Farrow

Thank you for your kind write-up of the used-book stores on Broadway. You captured a bit of the flavor of each of them. As the only other used-book store between the Book Fair at 44 South Broadway and Alameda, I would ask that you correct an error. The name of the store is Ketelsleger's Books--not "there's more." I realize Ketelsleger is not an easy name to spell, so please accept my invitation to stop in and familiarize yourselves with my shop.

Jeff Ketelsleger

Your June issue mentions Best ATM Machine. The writer (and the editor) are too stupid to know it, but the "M" in "ATM" means... machine! Surprise! What is an automatic teller machine machine?

Dumb and dumber...
Name withheld on request

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