Rail Roaded

The idea for Kevin Pharris's book came to him as he was leading bus tours for senior citizens, hearing them say, "When I was a child...." Pharris was intrigued by their recollections of the city's past through tales of Denver's once-vast streetcar system.

Today, he'll discuss Riding Denver's Rails: A Mile High Streetcar History. In it, Pharris uses personal stories and historical context to describe the evolution of the transit system in Denver and the demise of the streetcar in 1950, which he attributes to fashion. "We think of fashion as for hair or for clothing, but there's also fashion for architecture and even for transportation," says Pharris. "At the time, having a streetcar was seen as an embarrassing, outdated relic. Of course, today we think of it as a lamentable thing. I find it very funny: Here we are spending billions of dollars to put a tiny, tiny fraction back, when in the olden days it was this huge, very usable system."

Pharris will speak about the history of the transit system, from horse carts up to the present, and share the anecdotes he's collected from the people who were there to witness its growth, all while surrounded by the Forney Museum of Transportation’s collection of streetcars, cable cars and more. The event is part of the Forney's lecture series, which will continue with history talks on Saturdays throughout the year.

The talk begins at 1 p.m. at the Forney Museum, 4303 Brighton Boulevard. Tickets, which include museum admission, are $8 for members, $12 for non-members, and $20 for two, with a $2 discount for teachers, students and ANFRM and CWAM members. For more information, visit forneymuseum.org.
Sat., April 19, 1 p.m., 2014