Riding the City of Denver to La Salle, Colo., at Age 12

by Ronald Lewis

In the fall of 1954, my brother and I drove to Chicago for his marriage to a beautiful Wisconsin girl. After spending two weeks on a farm near Oostburg, Wisc., and eating nearly every meal with delicious Wisconsin cheese on it, it was time for the wedding.

I do not recall much of the wedding ceremony, but later that same day, I was delivered to the depot in Chicago and boarded a Union Pacific high-speed passenger train, "The City of Denver," for La Salle, Colo., (just south of Greeley). The train was routed over the Julesburg cutoff in Colorado, so it did not actually go through the Greeley Depot. This was an exciting time for me at 12 years old, to take a long-distance train trip by myself on the Union Pacific, my favorite railroad.

I rode this train all night, often getting up from my seat and wandering about the car. One time, I talked to a porter who was standing in the vestibule, with the top half of the dutch-door open. I asked how fast we were going and he replied, "about 90 miles per hour." The excitement of this trip by myself at a very young age kept me from sleeping much in my chair.

Finally, the breakfast service was announced.

I had enough money to have breakfast in the diner and went there for the best pancakes, orange juice and sausages. I distinctly remember the table service of china and silverware. It was the first time I saw such expensive and beautiful table service. At home, most of the tableware did not even match, much less be made of silver. I was really impressed by the delicious food and its presentation on the table.

I was afraid that I would miss the La Salle stop, so I ate quickly and returned to my seat. We arrived on time and my parents were there to pick me up. It was my very first adventure alone on a train and I have come to love trains ever since this memorable time of my life.

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La Salle, CO
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