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Friday, August 07, 2015

#author Christina Cole #Traveling by #Train in 1882 #historicColorado #Railroad #MFRWorg

From California to Colorado – A Long Railway Journey

When I began working on No Regrets, set in Colorado in 1882, I knew the story I was about to tell. I’d written a short synopsis for the publisher, and I looked forward to bringing the story to life.
The synopsis included this line:

To avoid any further problems, Hattie leaves Sunset.
Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? It was. Sending Hattie away – to California – was an easy task. I showed her packing up and leaving…and then moved on to hero’s point of view. Later I returned to Hattie, who was already living in far-away San Francisco.

Of course, Willie wouldn’t be much of a hero if he weren’t willing to go after the woman he loves and bring her home again…and that’s when I realized how little I knew about railroad travel in the late 19th century.

How long would it take for Willie and Hattie to travel from San Francisco to my fictional town of Sunset located a few hours from Denver? What route would they take? What would the accommodations be like?

Getting them home was not an easy task. It required travel on three different railway lines, overnight stays in two depots, and then a journey by wagon from Denver to Sunset.

I was fortunate to find a route map from 1871 and a timetable for 1882, so I was able to chart the couple’s progress from the time they boarded in San Francisco until they finally reached Denver.

I didn’t list every little town they passed through, but tried to give readers a feel for the trip in this short passage:

From San Francisco, they rode the Central Pacific line eastward, passing through Sacramento, then crossing into Nevada. The locomotive rolled onward. Truckee, Winnemucca, Carlin. Together he and Hattie noted the towns as their railcar rolled past. On to Promontory— where the golden spike had brought the east and west together slightly more than a decade before— and finally, nearly twenty-four hours after their trip had begun, they arrived in Ogden, Utah. Willie and Hattie rested there, spending a quiet night at the Union Station, a two-story wood-frame building beside the Weber River which marked the junction of the Central Pacific with the Union Pacific Railway.

That was only the first leg of the journey. The following morning, they boarded a Union Pacific train, traveling now in the comfort of a “Palace Car”. This was a luxury service offered by the railroad for a premium price. Palace cars featured plush carpeting, individual gas lamps for passengers, and fold-down sleeping berths – had Willie and Hattie stayed on the line.

Instead, they disembarked at Cheyenne, Wyoming, and spent the night at the depot’s hotel. After breakfast the next morning, they boarded yet another train, this one belonging to the Denver Pacific Railroad. At last, they were nearly home.

Railroad travel was difficult, dangerous, and above all, dirty.

The train rolled over the tracks, belching out smoke and thick clouds of steam. Greasy black soot soon covered Hattie’s cloak— and her face and hands as well. Willie fared no better. Loving him more than ever, she reached up and wiped a smudge from his face.

When Hattie and Willie finally reached Denver – where they spent another night before continuing on – I’m sure I was as relieved as they must have been.
Today, we travel swiftly and easily from place to place, watching movies, listening to music, and enjoying snacks, beverages, and meals. It’s easy to forget how very inconvenient travel was in the early days of the nation.

Find Christina at: Website

Find No Regrets at: Amazon

I love this information, Christina! Trains run in my family as my mom and grandad worked for the T&P railroad. Have you had a train trip?


Angela Adams said...

I found this post fascinating, Christina! Thank you. I actually love riding the train. I live in Pennsylvania and went to college in Vermont, a ten hour train ride back then. I had my walkman (anyone, remember those?), a supply of cassette tapes, my book, and I was set for the ride!! Have a great weekend!!!

J.M. Maurer said...

What a great post, Christina! My favorite way to get to a Cubs game is by train, and I love the subway system in Boston. As for transportation from back in the day . . . I think it would have freaked me out, so I'll just stick with reading your book.
Love the cover. All the best to you.

Christina Cole said...

Most of my readers know that I lived with my grandfather while I was growing up. What you might not know is that he worked as a railroad telegrapher for the Rock Island line. The depot wasn't far from our home, and I spent a lot of hours visiting my grandfather at work. I played games of "ticketmaster", and -- of course, this was back in the old days, you know -- I'd go out to meet the trains, pull the mail carts out, and bring the mail back to the station.

It was a very unique childhood filled with very special memories.

Devika Fernando said...

Absolutely fascinating! I love getting a glimpse of yesteryear, even more so when it's connected to a story.

vicki batman said...

Good morning, Christina and Friends! I'm from a railroad family too and loved waiting at tracks to watch the various cars go by. I did take a memorable trip with Handsome from Vancouver to Banff on a train. Wow, treated like royalty and the scenery was spectacular.

Melissa Keir said...

I still travel by train from Michigan (Ann Arbor) to Chicago. It's the best way to travel. Each year when I talk to the students about travel, it's hard for them to grasp the huge changes that have happened over time. All the best with your book!

vicki batman said...

Hi, Melissa! I think it cool you still travel by train. By me, most are commercial trains, not passengers. It's also funny that around here, the trolley cars have made a comeback.

stanalei said...

Great post, Christina. One of my current fav shows is Hell On Wheels. Your excerpts did a great job capturing the hardship and the grime! Best of luck on the stories.

Christina Cole said...

Thanks to everyone for all the good wishes. Trains are, indeed, a part of our history. Even though their heyday is long past, it's good there are still a few passenger services for us to enjoy.

Maria Imbalzano said...

A friend of mine just travelled by train from San Francisco to Chicago. She said the first leg of the trip to Denver was enough. It was beautiful but the accommodations are teeny tiny and she looked forward to meal times to get out of their cabin. She didn't want to get back on the train in Denver but had to. Your story sounds fascinating. Thanks for sharing

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