Saturday, September 19, 2009


Another detail on how the Switzerland Trail of America came into my life, this note composed and put aside in January, 2007.
Doing research prior to a photo shoot at the Wolf Tongue Mill in Nederland, recently I spent several hours at the Carnegie Branch of the Boulder Public Library.

Immersing myself in the faded images of another time, I saw picture after picture of the locomotives on the narrow gauge railroad that served the mountain communities. I finally connected up that this was the Switzerland Trail I had heard about for years but could never locate.

"Can you help me find a map of it?" I asked Wendy Hall, Librarian. I thought I was just scratching a momentary itch of curiosity. Her search for a map took long enough for me to realize how scarcely documented the locations of the rail system were.

In various books I could find scores of references to the railroad in text format, and Forest Crossen's book had concise, thorough summaries--in text--of the geography of the lines. But the hand-drawn map included in his monologue was only approximate and was tied to few contemporary landmarks that would help me see where the line actually is, in today's terms.

Innocently enough, I stayed after work one day and spent some time studying Crossen's simple line drawing with current mapping data provided by the Boulder County Land Use office. I told Claudia I'd be home an hour or so late for dinner.

I did make it home by bedtime, but barely. When I discovered that the trail I'd been running at Caribou Ranch Open Space, west of the Peak to Peak Highway, had been part of the roadbed of the Switzerland Trail, I couldn't help but wonder where else I'd been that this railroad had been part of.

Thus began what has turned into a quest of sorts, searching for traces of this lost treasure, discovering the history of the mountain community I've come to call home.

Realizing this mysterious place has been in plain sight all along.

And finding some new/old parts of myself along the way.

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