Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Union Station-booted model-railroad club will make a stop at History Colorado

The Platte Valley & Western Railroad club started packing up its thirty-year-old model-train layout in the basement of Union Station last weekend, with no idea where the 2,000-square-foot display will eventually land.

Union Station Alliance, the developer of Union Station, says it's "offered the basement of the Sage Building on 16th & Welton downtown" -- although club spokesman Tarry Harrison says he hasn't heard about that offer from any source other than Westword.

The club has heard from both Englewood and Westminster, which would like to make the layout an attraction in those towns. But the club members would rather stay downtown, Harrison says -- and in the interim, they'll be able to get back on track at History Colorado this summer...sort of.

In the same April 24 statement in which Union Station Alliance mentions the Sage building, it adds this:

As a means of celebrating of our city's heritage, Union Station Alliance is sponsoring the History Colorado Center's upcoming All Aboard Colorado exhibit. Opening in June, this exhibit is a tribute to train travel and will showcase two different model trains for two local clubs: The Platte Valley & Western Model Railroad Club and the Colorado & Great Western Model Railroad Club. We hope that everyone will visit this exhibit and join us in our excitement as we look to opening the historic Union Station train station in 2014.
Unlike the PV&W layout, the Colorado & Great Western is designed as a modular layout, one that can be taken down and set up elsewhere; the club used to be featured at the Westminster Mall once a month, and it frequently displays at train shows. "It's really a wonderful modular layout," says Harrison. And while his own club's layout isn't designed for temporary displays -- during this past weekend's packing, they had to sacrifice about $2,000 in turnouts, he notes -- at least it has the members to help with manpower at the C&GW show at the History Colorado Center.

According to History Colorado, All Aboard Colorado, which will open on the fourth floor of the center at 1200 Broadway on June 15 (just in time for Father's Day), "will feature a 1,200-square-foot modular train display that is evocative of Colorado landscapes and scenery. Motorized trains will operate at specific times." And members of PV&W will be on hand to flip the switch.

The Denver Society of Model Railroaders, which has a 78-year-old, 6,500-square-foot layout in the basement of Union Station, isn't part of the All Aboard Colorado project. But then, unlike PV&W, which got the news that it had to pack up earlier this month, DSMR hasn't been told that it won't be part of Union Station when it reopens in the summer of 2014, according to club president Hugh Blaney. As far as he's concerned, the club will be staying put, as it was promised it could back in November 2011 by the two developers then vying to get the Union Station contract.

"Someday down the road," Blaney says, "we hope to welcome the public to our trains and operations just as we have in the past -- in the basement of Union Station."

From the Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "Union Station gives beloved model train layout the boot."

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun