Driving out of downtown Denver in a
beautiful spring dusk, I glanced back at the skyline
from Water Street — probably what is now the
Aquarium area — and caught a glimpse of a sprawling flat
land, scarce of buildings and adorned only with gently
waving natural grass. What a scene, this "small
area of plains", with skyscrapers beginning to punctuate
the landscape! Well, this needed to be checked
|The rail yards, an area roughly
defined from Colfax Avenue on the south, the Platte
River on the west, Cherry Creek Viaduct to the north,
and Auraria Parkway to the west, were strewn mostly with
unused old railroad tracks.
The tracks lay like a
ghostly reminder of days when their existence was vital.
of tower , looking North onto Auraria
Rail yards, Lower Downtown and part of
Downtown to the right.
This is now Elitch
Gardens on the left and Pepsi Center on the right in foreground below.
The only other remnants of bygone days
included a smattering of small cinder block or metal
warehouses, a rail freight crane and part of the
Roundhouse and entire Turntable, and a couple of
incredibly tall towers for lights and observation in the
middle of the yards.
||Most of the small structures were
closer to Auraria Parkway with the Turntable located in
the southwest corner.
The observation tower I climbed
was more in the south end of the yard. It stood
over 100 feet tall and approximately 6 feet square at
It was a trip; if I moved too quickly, I
could actually feel the structure sway slightly.
It was tremendously exciting and tremendously stupid.
friend, Greg Coleman, about to climb to top
of observation tower with me.
The Roundhouse — what remained of a
huge wood circular barn-like structure — was nearby.
From the inside I looked out a large door, opening to
the east, and thought I was in Kansas, not a major city.
The Turntable was a powerful structure, not unlike
nearby similar bridges over Cherry Creek. Today, some
larger warehouses remain near Auraria Parkway, but the
tracks and freight crane are gone.
- Kim Allen