In the late 19th and
early 20th centuries, the advent of rail transportation made
Americans much more mobile. They were able to move
away from home towns, visit friends and relatives in distant
places, commute from one town to another for work, and
travel around the country just for fun.
Funicular (or "incline")
railways were a special form of rail travel that allowed
people to easily ascend mountainsides and enjoy the views
from the heights. A funicular is a hybrid between a
train and an elevator, used to carry passengers and freight
up and down hillsides. Like a train, it has cars that run on
rails. Like an elevator, it uses a cable to pull the cars up
the hill. A funicular has a pair of cars that run in
opposite directions, so the one going down helps pull the
one going up.
funiculars as well as other forms of rail transportation
were displaced by cars, buses, and trucks. While a few
funiculars remain in service in the United States, most were
gone by about 1930.
a brief period between 1912 and about 1920, Golden Colorado,
a small town about 15 miles west of Denver, had two
funicular railways--one on Lookout Mountain on the city's
west side and one on South Table Mountain on the city's east
side. Both railways had the misfortune to be built
just as automobiles and roads were about to explode in
popularity, and neither proved to be a commercial success.
Nonetheless, the scars left on the mountainsides a century
later still intrigue and inspire people--including the
author of this book.
Barb Warden has lived on the slopes of South Table Mountain
for about half of her life. Curiosity about the
funiculars finally led her to research them through antique
postcards, historic photos, and old newspaper accounts.
The resulting tale of the rise and fall of Golden's
funiculars is told through this book: The Funiculars of