Train rides mark Yampa's 100 years

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Karen Tussey knew there was one thing she could give the town of Yampa and Routt County residents that no one else could: free train rides.

Tussey, a Yampa resident and former state chairman of Operation Lifesaver, has acquired a Union Pacific train that will be giving free rides to Routt County residents June 9 in celebration of Yampa's centennial. The event, which is open to everyone, will pick passengers up at the Depot Art Center and will take them about 30 miles west or south of Steamboat Springs before returning to the Depot.

Those who wish to make reservations to ride the train must call, fax or e-mail Tussey before May 31 to reserve a seat on the trains. People need to include their names, addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, number of desired seats, and first and second ride time choices.

Each train ride can accept 150 people. The train is scheduled to give rides at 8 a.m., 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m.

Passengers should arrive at the Depot 30 minutes early. Those who are riding the train are asked not to wear open-toe shoes because they are a safety risk, Tussey said.

The direction of the train will remain unknown until it leaves the Depot, Tussey said.

Depending on coal traffic, trains may head toward Hayden or Oak Creek.

While on the train, passengers can expect a safety presentation from an Operation Lifesaver representative. Operation Lifesaver is a nonprofit public education program that works to end collisions, deaths and injuries at places where roadways cross train tracks and on railroad rights-of-way.

Even though the train rides are meant to be fun and educational, Tussey said she hopes people will gain a better understanding of how dangerous trains can be to pedestrians and cars and how to avoid accidents.

Operation Lifesaver personnel will explain how important is it to respect railroad crossings and to not trespass on the tracks, Tussey said.

"I think we're lulled into this space of 'Oh, trains come through here all the time.' But trains are deceptive. You can never really tell how fast they're going," she said. "We need to become more and more aware of our own train safety, especially in our growing communities."

Passengers also will be able to watch TVs that will be streaming live feed from the train's engines to give the passengers a view of a train conductor's perspective.

Each round-trip train ride is expected to take about 1.5 hours, Tussey said.

"I hope to see many, many smiling faces. I hope people will learn something and recognize the rich history Union Pacific has had in our county," she said.

In addition to the train rides, there will be a railroad history booth and Operation Lifesaver booth at the Depot for those who don't want to ride the train but want to get a picture with the train or check out the history.

The city of Steamboat Springs will provide light refreshments and shuttle buses for residents riding the train from Steamboat Springs to Yampa at 4 p.m. The 4 p.m. train ride has already been booked, Tussey said.

For those who aren't able to make it June 9, the Union Pacific passenger equipment will be available to tour from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 10 in Yampa across from the Weston's Country Corner on Colorado Highway 131.

What: Operation Lifesaver train rides

Where: The Depot Art Center

When: 8 a.m., 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. June 9

Cost: Free

Call: If you're interested in making reservations to ride one of the Operation Lifesaver trains, contact Karen Tussey at 638-9752, by e-mail at ktussey@springsip... or by fax at 638-1085.

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