Summer has finally arrived in full bloom this season. While our early morning temps are still a little brisk, the afternoon more than makes up for excessive bundling and layering during the long cold season. Winter, however, is just a few months away. Without it and all the snow it brings us, we wouldn’t be the established and well-known ski community that we are today. This brings to mind our GC ski history which is largely attributed to the Eskimo Ski Club and the original ski train.
In 1939 ski enthusiast and Eskimo Ski Club founder Frank Bulkley saw the railroad as an opportunity to grow his club and help other skiers easily navigate to fresh powder. He contacted the Denver and Salt Lake Railway about transportation of his youthful skiers to Winter Park. A year later (1940) the railroad operated the first Ski Train to Winter Park.
In 1941, World War II caused a temporary halt to the Ski Train and in 1947 the Denver and Rio Grande Western acquired the Denver and Salt Lake Railway and the Winter Park Ski Train was re-created. The train continued to transport the young members of the Eskimo club into the 60’s and eight steel cars were added. The round-trip fare was a mere $2 and passengers could also purchase snacks and hot drinks.
During the mid-80s, the old 1915 cars were too costly to maintain. In 1988 Ansco Investment had purchased the Ski Train franchise and put newer equipment into service including newer cars built-in 1968. The older original Northern Pacific cars were sold to the Napa Valley Wine Train. On March 29th, 2009 the Ski Train made its last run. The locomotives and cars were sold to the Algoma Central Railway in Ontario, Canada.
These days the Amtrak Winter Park Ski Train is a much-improved experience over the original train. Skiers from Denver catch the train at the hip and swanky Union Station in downtown Denver and bypass all the hassles of traditional ski traffic to and from Berthoud pass. The train costs anywhere between $29 to $59 each way while lift tickets at the resort start at $69.