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The Tiny Town Railroad and Village 7/3/2021

by Chris Guenzler

Elizabeth and I woke up at 7:00 AM and prepared for our day. After sampling the hotel's breakfast which was very poor due to no cereal, toast, waffles or hot items even though the equipment was in plain sight, we packed up and checked out. I drove us to Morrison via a route that took us right by Red Rocks Amphitheatre where U2 had that great concert that put them in the world's spotlight. We drove through the town of Red Rocks on the way to Morrison where we found Turkey Creek Road, drove up it and parked across the road.

Tiny Town & Railroad

I used to see this place years ago in the Tourist Trains Book, then I searched for it on the Internet and found it still existed. I contacted them in June via the telephone in order to write a story about their railroad.

Tiny Town's Long History

Like most Colorado mountain towns, Tiny Town has had its share of boom and bust cycles. Currently enjoying a period of growing interest from Colorado families, and stable non-profit stewardship, Tiny Town is growing again as we look forward to our 100-year anniversary.

Here's a timeline of major events in Tiny Town history

1915 On the location of the Denver-Leadville Stage Coach Station George Turner begins building Turnerville to entertain his young daughter. Turnerville was the precursor of Tiny Town.

1920 Turnerville grows large enough to be open to the public.

1924 The beginning of Tiny Town's heyday. It included 125 buildings with a grocery store, barber shop, two lakes, pool room, hotel, school and church. The town also boasted a genuine pueblo structure with Indians from a New Mexico reservation. During this period, 20,000 persons per year drove up hazardous dirt mountain roads from Denver to view this magnificent site.

1927 By this time Tiny Town had become as well known as Buffalo Bill's Grave and Pike's Peak. The project outgrew George Turner's spare time and he sold out.

1929 Flood damages Tiny Town.

1932 Another flood damages Tiny Town.

1935 A disastrous fire destroys the Indian pueblo and all the principal buildings of Tiny Town. Fortunately, the miniature businesses and residences were untouched by the flames.

1948 Model of filling station (gas station)A stroke of the pen may have been more devastating to Tiny Town than these floods and fires. On January 28, 1948, plans were approved to reroute Highway 285 from in front of Tiny Town. This took it from the everyday view of those who used 285.

1965 The Given and Turner families (no relation to George) restore Tiny Town.

1966 Tiny Town closes and is put up for sale; no buyers were found.

1969 A disastrous flood destroys Tiny Town, leaving a nightmarish, debris-strewn ghost town.

1972 Lyle Fulkerson, model train buff and master mechanic, begins another Tiny Town restoration. This project involved the entire Fulkerson family and included a zoning change, widening and deepening of Turkey Creek, and regrading of the railroad bed.

1977 Lyle Fulkerson is killed by a runaway train car on his way to Tiny Town.

1978 Tiny Town closes and falls into disrepair.

1980 Four families again decide to reopen Tiny Town, this time including pony rides and a puppet theater.

1983 Tiny Town again is closed to the public.

1987 The Northern Colorado Chapter of the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM), a trade group made up of professional property managers, adopts Tiny Town as a civic project and pledges to revive the remaining structures. Lots in Tiny Town are leased at public auction, raising $6,000 for The Children's Museum in Denver. Winning bidders pledge to rebuild individual houses to original specifications. This rebuilding of Tiny Town is professionally planned and managed using the strict guidelines IREM encourages from its members.

1988 Volunteers returned 50 refurbished or new structures to the site. Tiny Town reopened July 4th with 11,000 visitors that weekend. Due to this enthusiastic public reception, it was decided to extend hours to weekends through Labor Day. There were also 40 lots sold for new buildings to be returned in 1989.

1989 Members of IREM and other volunteers establish THE TINY TOWN FOUNDATION, a non-profit corporation, to operate the town on a day-to-day basis while ensuring the village's long-term success. Over 60,000 people visit Tiny Town's 65 structures in 1989.

1990 Tiny Town now boasts over 80 colorful structures for its 75th Anniversary Season. With half the track completed by opening day, Tiny Town had The World Famous Tiny Town Railway in operation by midsummer.

1991 This year proved to be the most successful year in Tiny Town's history with over 90 buildings and three operating trains. 100,069 people came to enjoy the park.

2011 Several buildings built back the 1920s by Tiny Town's founder, George Turner, were discovered in a nearby property and donated to Tiny Town. After restoration, they were placed on display in a new exhibit area called Turnerville.

2012 A new locomotive is commissioned for Tiny Town.

2014 Locomotive 12, the Mary Ross, is placed in service.

2015 Tiny Town's 100th Anniversary celebration lasts all summer.

2016 A new caboose is commissioned for Tiny Town.

2018 The new caboose is placed in service.

2020 Tiny Town is closed all season due to COVID-19 pandemic.

2021 Tiny Town reopens to the public under COVID-19 guidelines.

Our Visit

We crossed the road and went in through the gate and met Dave and his wife who once lived in Laguna Niguel before moving to Colorado. After giving them cards and telling them we were expected, they took us inside the roundhouse where we met Elvira, the park manager. We walked for a few minutes and she told us to ensure we had a free ride and could wander around the site before the park opened.

Tiny Town Railroad 2-6-6 15" gauge 12 "Mary Ross" built by Uhrich Locomotive Works in Strasburg, Colorado. We would follow this locomotive back to where their cars are kept in the car shed.

Dave bringing out the cars for his train. He pulled up the switch then reversed to pick up the other trainset.

Dave bringing out the second trainset of cars which would be pulled by steam engine 10, "Cinder Belle".

The engineer and the engine ready to continue to work.

Coupling up the second set of equipment. We were offered a ride and took them up on it.

Looking down to the track to where we would be going.

Crossing Turkey Creek's southern bridge.

Something I did not photograph in my previous visit here in 2016 was the Tiny Town across Turkey Creek.

The engine that is attached to the coaling shed. On this trip, we will show you the buildings that public has access to. They are all one-sixth scale models and are incredible in detail.

We only ran up to the eastern Turkey Creek bridge but Elizabeth was as impressed by the buildings as I was the first time I saw them.

We backed all the way to the station platform where we detrained and would wait for another ride later in the morning. We then walked over to the roundhouse to see the live breathing steam engine that would pull the first train of the day.

Tiny Town Railroad steam engine 10, "Cinder Belle", built by Uhrich Locomotive Works in Strasburg, Colorado.

The Tiny Town roundhouse.

The model of the Addams Family House. Elizabeth walked down the pathway and explored and photographed the unique buildings of Tiny Town.

Tiny Town water tower.

The unique wig-wag crossing signal at Tiny Town.

Looking at what we would see later on when we took the train.

The caboose of the train.

Another view of the Addams Family house, a show that I watch most evenings at home.

On the side of the gift shop is this sign about the railroad.

We heard the steam engine whistle and went over to the roundhouse where we photographed it coming off the turntable where it would back down to its trainset.The two of us walked back over to where we had been sitting and our engineer said "Let's go for a ride", so we did.

Approaching and crossing Turkey Creek.

The curve coming off the Turkey Creek bridge.

Burma Shave signs.

Entering the Moffat Tunnel at North Portal.

Exiting the Moffat Tunnel at South Portal.

The mining town on the north hillside of Tiny Town.

The Man Cave.

Crossing the southern bridge across Turkey Creek.

The lighthouse along our route.

Elizabeth enjoying herself on the Tiny Town train on a beautiful summer's day. She visited the gift shop and bought a magnet then we walked out of the park and went up to the top parking lot so we could get a picture of the caboose.

Burlington Northern caboose 12210 at Morrison. From here, our GPS took us on surface streets and through downtown Denver to our next stop of the trip.