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Old 04-22-2009, 03:48 PM
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Default No more ski train

Dangit, never got the chance to ride it, always wanted to...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009, 9:09am MDT | Modified: Wednesday, April 22, 2009, 12:35pm


Colorado's Ski Train to Winter Park ends after 69 years


Denver Business Journal - by Mark Harden



The Ski Train that has run between Denver's Union Station and Winter Park for 69 years has come to an end, a spokesman for the Anschutz Co., the owner, confirmed Wednesday. The equipment has been sold to the Algoma Central Railway Inc., a subsidiary of the Canadian National Railway Co., and will no longer operate in Colorado, Anschutz Co. spokesman Jim Monaghan said.
Terms were not announced.

He said the train has operated "at a consistent loss over the past 21 years."

"Profitability had never been the controlling issue with the Ski Train," Monaghan added, noting that the train has been operated more as a public amenity than as a money maker.

"However, more recently it has faced additional, serious challenges, including escalating costs, particularly liability coverage," he said.
He also said there have been operational conflicts with freight train traffic, "substantial uncertainties" posed by planned redevelopment of Union Station, and "long-term impacts resulting from this nation's economic crisis. Regrettably, the Ski Train could no longer be operated under these conditions."

Union Station, opened in 1870, is to be converted into a multi-purpose transportation center as part of the Regional Transportation District's FasTracks rail-transit program, resulting in a hub for RTDs commuter trains and buses and Amtrak passenger service, with room for bicycles and taxicabs. The station has served as the Ski Train's Denver departure point and as a parking place for its trains in the off-season.

But the Denver Business Journal reported Jan. 16 that work at Union Station beginning later this year would reduce close-in parking and platform space that had been used by the Ski Train and its passengers.
At the time, Ski Train manager Jim Bain said that the company had concerns about whether there would be enough space for the Ski Train tom to operate at the station.

The train had been owned by Ansco Investment Co., a unit of Denver investor Philip Anschutz's company. Despite the challenges faces by the train, the Anschutz Co. had not been trying to find a buyer until it was contacted by the Canadian rail company that bought it, Monaghan said.
"The Canadian National Railway approached us ... just at the time these additional issues were becoming more prominent," he said.

Algoma Central Railway is based in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada. It operates winter and summer trains in Ontario's scenic Agawa Canyon.
The Ski Train was launched by the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad in 1940 to serve the newly opened Winter Park ski area. Anschutz's company acquired it in 1988.

The train for decades has carried skiers from Denver on a twisting 57-mile route, through the 6-mile-long Moffat Tunnel under the Continental Divide, and then arriving at the foot of the Winter Park ski slopes.
In recent years the train has operated both winter and summer.
In 1997, during the "Summit of the Eight" meeting of world leaders in Denver, then-first lady (and now secretary of state) Hillary Clinton hosted a ride on the Ski Train to Winter Park for the spouses of leaders attending the summit.

The train's last run was March 29.
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Old 04-22-2009, 03:55 PM
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Thats really sad!
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Old 04-22-2009, 04:17 PM
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Really hard to believe. This came as a complete surprise. I wonder if Anshutz had baited the public with the potential for selling, that he may have received more support and funding to keep it going?
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Old 04-22-2009, 04:35 PM
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Oh man! I really wanted to go on that!
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Old 04-22-2009, 07:45 PM
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ARRGH. I always wanted to do it.
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Old 04-22-2009, 08:51 PM
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Really hard to believe. This came as a complete surprise. I wonder if Anshutz had baited the public with the potential for selling, that he may have received more support and funding to keep it going?
Not likely. Anschutz is a shrewd businessman who is out for quick turns for profit. It was a toy for him, and nothing more. When he acquired the D&RGW railroad in '88, his first order of business was to sell any property the railroad owned and didn't directly use. Then he was focused on hacking up the D&RGW and Southern Pacific into nothing resembling their former selves so that they could be incorporated into the Union Pacific system . The only way he made money was to buy something large and divy it up into small chunks for larger sales. Kinda like the guy who will spend time and effort to part out his cruiser instead of giving 1/2 of the add-ons away for a one lump sum.

I am just glad that Bradshaw bought the Silverton before Anshutz got the D&RGW. Otherwise Disneyland RR (What we affectionately call the D&SNGRR) would really be a disneyland. Or parted and sold.

My one and only time riding the Ski Train was on my 18th birthday, March 8th, 1992. The D&RGW still owned it, and there was a blizzard that closed northbound I-25 when we finally got to Denver. We left WP on time, but heavy snow and drifting on the east side of the Moffat Tunnel kept us from reaching Denver until after 8PM. At 7PM we were in North Yard (I-70 and I-25) and the crew had reach their 12 hour limit. So we sat while another crew was brought in, and finally got off the train at 8PM at Union Station. When we tried to drive home to Longmont, I-25 was closed at 120th, so we stayed at the then Holiday Inn on the south-east side. Luckily we got a room, ovr 100 people had to sleep in the lobby. The skiing wasn't great, but the trip home was memorable.
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Old 04-23-2009, 09:08 AM
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I'd read that he ran it at a loss or at least almost no profit for the ~20 years that he owned it, more or less as a favor to Denver and Colorado. Sometimes rich people aren't all evil.
I can vouch for that. My bro in law is an exec in accounting for Ansco. Philip Anschutz is a good and generous man.
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Old 04-23-2009, 11:33 AM
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I rode that train so many times in high school that I knew the conductors and the other people running the train. My parents would drop me and my friend of on Saturday mornings and pick us up again around 6. It was great and I am sad to see it go.

Sharon kept bugging me to go on it and I always said next ???? Now I can't say that anymore, man I was/am an ASS! I guess it is true, "live life now for it may not be there tomorrow." Said by an old wise ASS, me!
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Old 04-23-2009, 12:08 PM
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I always wanted to ride it as well. Rats.
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Old 04-23-2009, 12:46 PM
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I looked into it last season. For a family of four, it got pretty expensive. That's why we didn't do it. A tank of gas was much cheaper, and there would still be fuel in the tank when we got home. The reality of our budget made it a luxury option rather than a viable alternative to driving.
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