Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Video: Yesterday's Magic Rails To ... um, Yesterday

As the mercury slowly climbs out of winter and into our spring (hopefully), cabin fever has again sprung many images and ideas formerly locked in the human heart. Old tools and "new"Christmas gifts that have sat for some months find themselves wanted again by their owners. Whether you find yourself a veteran of the state's grand(e) scenery or a newly minted greenhorn, the Colorado high country is calling!

One reliable aspect of the Rocky Mountains is that they change very little in 50 years. For a prime example, look no further than below. If this featurette was made in our time, the travel to the Rockies would appear much different. Yet Durango and her sister city of Silverton would merely appear with newer automobiles and vivid color scenery, and maybe a few less period actors and staged gunfights.


Entire video link or skip to the good (Rio Grande) part

Films like the one above would appear before a movie--instead of gobs and gobs of previews--to entertain viewers and promote companies, concepts, and opportunities like travel by rail and tourism in remote western towns. The impact of such films on the subject, in conjunction with fictional movies using the local scenery likely can't be overstated, yet likely can't be calculated either beyond the common anecdotal evidence. Or, in plain english: this film contributed in a large way to preserving Colorado's steam tourism, but we'll never know how much.

Only 10 years later however, a trip completely by rail to Silverton would become impossible with both the abandonment of the WP portion of the California Zephyr and the abandonment of the Rio Grande narrow gauge from Antonito to Durango. Don't let those ideas die unless you have to! Next year, something or someone might not be there.

PS: Can't get enough old film? Check out The Royal Gorge.

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