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“Blacks on Track” to Celebrate African American Railroading History

Colorado Railroad Museum
Colorado Railroad MuseumRich Grant

The sounds of steam whistles and chugging locomotives will blend with the classical blues of Jelly Roll Morton at “Blacks on Tracks,” an event celebrating the amazing contributions that African Americans made to the nation’s railroads. Held at the Colorado Railroad Museum on Saturday, February 18, the event will include re-enactors, music, and the tasty food of Five Points caterer Cora Fayes, including traditional soul food such as fried chicken, po’boys and catfish.

Steam up at the Colorado Railroad Museum
Steam up at the Colorado Railroad MuseumRich Grant

African American connections with railroading goes back to the “Great Migration” that followed the Civil War, when thousands of freed slaves headed north and west, pursuing their dreams for greater opportunity and freedom. After the Transcontinental Railroad was completed in 1869, there was a rise in railroad tourism that provided opportunities for African Americans, many of whom served as porters on cars made by the Pullman Palace Car Company. In Denver, these rail employees and their families established a lively community in Five Points.

Saturday’s event will include opportunities to:

  • ride in vintage passenger coaches with red velvet seats and brass chandeliers pulled by an 1880’s steam locomotive;
  • explore the Museum’s collection of more than 100 pieces of historic rolling stock, from cabooses and freight cars, to diesel and steam locomotives that ran through Colorado;
  • listen to re-enactors as they transport you back to the experiences, challenges and sometimes harsh realities faced by African Americans working and traveling on the railroads in Colorado;
  • seea special exhibit ofphotographs that capture the vibrant black community in Colorado in the early 1900s;
  • savor food from Cora Fayes, the celebrated Five Points caterer who will be selling traditional soul food, including fried chicken, po’boys and catfish; and
  • listen to the celebrated sounds of African American classical, jazz and blues musicians like William Grant Still, Sidney Bechet, Ma Rainey, and Jelly Roll Morton, who once performed in Five Points neighborhood venues.

“Blacks on Tracks” will be presented at the Colorado Railroad Museum in collaboration with Denver’s Blair Caldwell African American Research Library and Black American West Museum. Special thanks to Kenneth Grimes, Terry Nelson, Steve Parker and Sid Wilson.

IF YOU GO: The event is at the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden, Saturday, Feb. 18, Special Event Fare Schedules apply.

  • Children (Under 2) Free
  • Children (2 – 16) $5.00
  • Adults $15.00
  • Family (Two adults and children under 16): $30.00
  • Seniors (Over 60) $10.00 Museum members are free.

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