Early locomotives were powered by the expansion of steam, which is why every class at train-conductor school is taught inside a sauna. Avoid getting sweaty while taking a train ride with today’s Groupon: for $12, you get a family pass, good for two adults and two children age 16 and younger, to the Santa Claus Special Steam-Up Event at Colorado Railroad Museum, in Golden (a $25 value). The event runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the following dates:
- Saturday, December 3
- Saturday, December 10
- Sunday, December 11
- Saturday, December 17<p>
Families climb aboard the Santa Claus Special for holiday-themed train trips, departing from outside an 1880s-era depot that houses the Colorado Railroad Museum. Pulling a full complement of festively decorated passenger cars, the museum’s locomotive chugs away from the station every 30 minutes between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. After the trip, children can share their wish lists with Santa and Mrs. Claus, proving their worthiness as good children with notarized documents and eyewitness testimony. Upon their return, families can wander the full scope of the 15-acre museum grounds, peering at pictures and models from railroad exhibits and gazing upward in awe at more than 100 locomotives and pieces of rolling stock.
Colorado Railroad Museum
Like a small-town railroad depot in the 1880s, the Colorado Railroad Museum’s main building features wide eaves and a bright-yellow exterior. The building reflects the Museum’s overall goal: to hark back to Colorado’s railroad era, a time when the state relied on its groundbreaking, narrow-gauge mountain railroads for supplies and information. Since 1959, the Museum has showcased the machinery of that time with an array of locomotives, passenger cars, freight cars, and cabooses. Alternatively, they present visitors with a glimpse of Table Mountain on the Museum’s train rides, enabling them to ride the rails in a bygone style without just taking the subway in an Abe Lincoln costume. To supplement its trains, the Museum hosts thousands of related rare photographs and artifacts, such as a replica of a 10,000-gallon water tank, humorously dubbed No Agua, that was once used to refill steam locomotives on the Chili Line to Santa Fe.