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COBWEB CORNERS: A royal visitor... on iron wheels

By Mel McFarland

       In October 1933 a grand, royal visitor passed through the Pikes Peak region and, like many before and since, paused for a look around. This was no ordinary visitor, but one that attracted attention all across the country. It was not a person, but a train.
       Hundreds of people saw the Royal Scot train at the Santa Fe station in Colorado Springs. The crack express train from England was on a tour of the Americas, including the US and Canada. Schoolchildren were among the crowds that turned out for the visit.
       The train stopped at the station for only an hour before it continued north to Denver. It went on to Cheyenne from there. It did make a brief stop at Palmer Lake, but only for a drink of mountain water.
       The London, Midland and Scottish locomotive and a string of cars were shipped over from England for the tour. The railways in that country use the same track gauge as here in the U.S.
       Some of the first steam locomotives in this country came from England, because they were invented there, but over the years our steam engines became quite different.
       It would not be the last train from England to come across the Atlantic Ocean. In the 1970s the Flying Scotsman was brought over for a similar tour of the country, but that trip did not include a visit to this area.
       Curiously, both trains did not return to England with all the cars that were brought over. Several were presented to rail groups to be preserved in museums, but since then most have been sent back to their homeland.
       The preservation of steam railroads and trains is a big tourist attraction in England, and I have been fortunate to visit some of them. The Royal Scot and Flying Scotsman are in museums today, but they are still brought out for tours occasionally. The English are even building new steam locomotives.
       I most enjoy visiting the narrow gauge in Wales, right where General Palmer was inspired to build narrow gauge here in Colorado.

(Posted 12/14/15; Opinion: Cobweb Corners)

       Editor's note: Local historian Mel McFarland has been writing his Cobweb Corners column in the Westside Pioneer since 2004. To see past columns, go to the Pioneer's Archives. Either look for desired articles under the Cobweb Corners category for any year, or search by keywords in the Find box.

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