Niwot Historical Society presents 2021's first lecture

In the Footsteps of the Iron Horse

 

March 17, 2021

John Dodd

This picture of the Niwot train depot from the top of the flour mill elevator that once stood across the street on Second Avenue illustrates the importance of the railroad to commerce in Niwot. Sugar beets grown by nearby farmers were loaded in boxcars via the ramp built in 1916 in the top right portion of the photo. The crop was transported to processing factories such as the Great Western Sugar Company. Many other crops "took to the rails" regularly to be transported to areas much further away than had been possible before the railroad existed.

Railroad historian Larry Dorsey will open this year's Niwot Historical Society lectures series with a presentation highlighting the advent of the railroad and its impact on Colorado's history. The lecture is titled In the Footsteps of the Iron Horse – The Influence of the Railroad on Colorado History. The term Iron Horse refers to steam locomotives which came on the scene in the 1800s gradually replacing actual horses which had been the prominent means of transportation.

Dorsey, a long-time resident of Boulder County, taught history at Fairview, Boulder and Centaurus High Schools before retiring. He is the chairman of the Superior Historical Commission and Trustee Emeritus of the Colorado Railroad Museum. Dorsey has presented many times to standing room only audiences at the Left Hand Grange in Niwot.

The lecture will illustrate the critical role the railroad had on the settlement and development of Colorado beginning in territorial days. The talk is a one-of-a-kind presentation researched and created by Dorsey, expounding on how the railways brought about the evolution of towns, industries, politics, and the economy in our state.

"The lecture will focus on the competition between two different economic forces: the people who developed railroads based in Denver and the people who developed railroads based in Golden," Dorsey said.

With the advent of transporting passengers and more importantly, moving goods such as ore, agricultural products, and cattle, the Colorado territory was suddenly connected to the rest of the country. Consequently, culture and economic opportunities seeped into the relatively isolated territory that Colorado had been up until 1870.

People with familiar names like Moffitt, Loveland and Berthoud are tied into the history of the railroad and Dorsey will touch on their legacy. He will also explore how tourism, diseases such as tuberculosis, and the subsequent migration of folks to Colorado were impacted by train travel.

The history of the Iron Horse is central to how the capital of the state was decided, along with explaining why small towns like Hugo and Sargents began popping up and drawing in inhabitants. Closer to home, Dorsey will explain what the railroad did for the town of Niwot.

The upcoming lecture will be available in a professionally videotaped and edited format enhanced by historical photos and maps, making the presentation an educational, entertaining, and visually fascinating experience.

This lecture can be found online beginning Friday, March 19, and will join three other Niwot Historical Society presentations put online in 2020. Visit http://www.NiwotHistoricalSociety.org and YouTube under the search term Niwot Historical Society.

The Niwot Historical Society's mission is to preserve, collect, and protect the history of Niwot and the surrounding area. To join the Niwot Historical Society, which is a 501(c)3 non- profit organization, an individual membership is $15 and families are $25. All donations are tax deductible.

 

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