The small train limped slowly along the snow-covered tracks. It was not a strong engine pulling the six passenger cars and caboose. To cut expenses there was no berthing car and no commissary or diner area. It was primarily a third rate, lower class transportation means meant only for the poor working class, those who would bring their own food to eat and sleep on the seats of the passenger cars, wrapped in old mildewed blankets, exhausted and sunk into a mass much like wet, heavy sacks of bad potatoes. It was the least expensive passenger coach that could make the 750 mile slog from El Paso, Texas, up and through the mountain passes to its final destination in Rifle, Colorado.
Along the climbing, route through the passes in Colorado, the tiny train rounded the powdery bases of the immense white, snow-swaddled mountains. The tiny engine carriage smokestack coughed and hacked up thick black plumes of smoldering coal residue, the furnace constantly gasping for air, as the fire powered the steam engine and it ascended arduously through the peaks and snowy passes. In the engine car, the fireman worked double- time shoveling coal into the fire box. It was all he could do to feed the fire, to heat enough steam, to keep up the train’s present sluggish pace.
Inside the second passenger, carriage was a small frail girl. She rode all by herself, alone and insignificant, sitting on the hard wooden passenger bench. The girl had a one-way ticket to Colorado, all paid for with money scratched together, and donated by numerous neighbors of the girl’s parents. She had no other money.