Colorado’s Tiny Town
Colorado is full of unique attractions, incredible landscapes and quirky little tid-bits. One of Colorado’s most eccentric attractions is the World Famous Tiny Town & Railroad. Just a short drive west of Denver into the foothills lies a Tiny Town, which features kid-sized buildings and a train. Built in the early 1900’s, Tiny Town is a unique Colorado experience perfect for families.
In 1915, George Turner had an unusual idea for entertaining his daughter, a miniature town. He started building Turnerville on the location of the Denver-Leadville Stage Coach Station. In the 20’s, Turnerville had grown large enough to be opened to the public and was renamed Tiny Town. In the first few years of Tiny Town, there were 125 buildings including a grocery store, barber shop, pool room, hotel, school, church and a guenuine pueblo structure with Indians from a reservation in New Mexico, as well as two lakes. It was a booming attraction, with over 20,000 people driving up dirt mountain roads a year to see Tiny Town.
Twelve years after he had built Tiny Town, George Turner had become overwhelmed with the project and sold it. Over the next forty years, Tiny Town experienced floods, fires, complete destruction, no ownership, opening, closing, and was left in the dust. In 1987, the Northern Colorado Chapter of the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM), adopted Tiny Town as a civic project. They leased lots in Tiny Town in a public auction for the Children’s Museum in Denver, with the winning bidders pledging to rebuild individual houses to specifications to fully restore Tiny Town.
On July 4, 1988, Tiny Town reopened with 11,000 visitors. After this they decided to extend hours to weekends through Labor Day. In 1989, 60,000 people visited Tiny Town’s 65 structures. 1991 was the most successful year in Tiny Town’s history, with over 90 buildings and three operating trains and a total of 100,069 visitors.
Tiny Town is still a booming attraction, with one of the more popular activities being the train ride through the town. The ride is about 10 minutes and allows you to see parts of the town you cannot access while walking around. Tiny Town also offers picnics and birthday party areas right on the location. Located right outside of the foothills, this is a very popular place for families visiting the area to let their kids run free. Their steam engines take a lot of loving care and attention to keep running. Just like engineers 100 years ago, they arrive hours before departing to do the many tasks that are required. After break checks and warming the cylinders with steam, they back around to the coal shed and load up for the day’s fuel. One of the steam engines, known as Cinder Belle (#10), is a “honest-to-goodness coal-fired” steam engine. Stop in Tiny Town and catch the train ride while on your way up to the mountains. Then make a stop in Idaho Springs, the first mining town in Colorado, for some rafting and zipline with AVA!