Saturday, June 14, 2014

The "City of Denver"

Welcome back Key Room fanatics!
I hope you’re all enjoying this sunny Saturday afternoon and maybe contemplating the expanse of the Baldpate Key Collection while you sip iced tea on a porch swing in the mountains. If you are, or if you need a little inspiration, I’m here to highlight another one of our fascinating keys for you.

Today I walked over to panel 10 on our left side wall where we have a large assortment of keys relating to transportation and all the planes, trains, and automobiles you can think of, and I picked one out that struck me as pretty interesting. It was donated by the Union Pacific Railroad Company in 1936 and is the key to a train called the “CITY OF DENVER.” Unfortunately for all of us, John Denver never wrote a song about this train, but it’s notable for reasons of its own. “The CITY OF DENVER” made the very first 16 hour daily service voyage from Denver to Chicago on June 18, 1936 which set the record for the fastest long-distance train route in the world. Before its historic journey, the fastest train schedule between Denver and Chicago took 25 hours making the “CITY OF DENVER’s” route 9 hours faster; a revolution in efficiency that the Union Pacific advertized would “save a business day.”
And like a true champion of the rails, the “CITY OF DENVER” had both speed and stamina. It dominated the competition and ran the fastest route from Denver to Chicago for nearly 20 years. It was not until 1953 that Union Pacific Railroad Company updated its route in favor of a lighter, faster engine. That’s quite an achievement for one little train.

So how does the “CITY OF DENVER” compare to the trains of today? Well, it really isn’t too far behind. On the 16 hour route from Denver to Chicago, the “CITY OF DENVER” averaged about 65 miles per hour, and although most modern AmTrak trains are capable of higher speeds, there is a 79 mph speed limit set for most American routes. Since rail travel has been changing, however, many trains are blowing that number away. Bullet trains average about 200 mph and even that number continues to increase with new technologies.

If you come by the Key Room you’ll be able to see even more keys from American railway history and plenty of other industries as well. There’s lots to be learned and discovered.

Until next time,

Key Room Museum Curator