When he was a boy his daddy told him many times not to be anywhere near Woodstock, Colorado, after dark on March 10 of any year. His daddy was a trapper who lived in the mountains for most of his life, and the stories he told were never believed by anyone.
Now the boy had grown into an old man, but some of his father's stories still burned in his mind and demanded to be freed. Here he was, camped in waist deep snow at the edge of what was once a railroad track to the Alpine Tunnel. It was March 10, 1984, exactly 100 years since the town of Woodstock was wiped off the face of the earth.
The man huddled in his tent trying to stay warm against the howling winds and blinding snow that pounded the walls. His snowmobile was nearly buried outside the tent in fresh snow. His lantern was all that kept the inside of the tent above freezing. Suddenly, he felt the ground moving under him. It was a vibration that was quickly followed by the sound of steel wheels against a steel track. But that was not possible. The rails for the track had been removed many years ago. He stepped outside the tent and moved to the center of what was once the path of the train. The sound grew louder and louder.
Some remnants remain from...
Some remnants remain from the mining activity on Cumberland Pass.
Suddenly a whistle blew and a glow from lanterns appeared before him. The ghostly image of a train lurched out of the darkness and passed right through him in less than a second. The sound of the train began to fade but was replaced by a roar of something coming down the mountain and getting closer by the second. The sound of trees being cracked like toothpicks and the rumble of rocks and boulders being pushed ahead of the white death filled the air.
The old man squinted his eyes against the raging wind and the blowing snow, trying to see what could not be there. He saw ghostly images of several buildings including a telegraph office and a boarding house. Then from out of the darkness, the white death appeared. It was an avalanche bigger than anything he ever imagined. He heard screams coming from the boarding house as the snow engulfed it. The water tank disintegrated with an explosion that sent water and ice into the air. The old man stared in disbelief, unable to move, as the avalanche came over top of him.
Then, it was gone. No avalanche. No buildings. No water tank. It just disappeared, replaced only by the howling winds and blowing snow that preceded the incident. Surprised he was still alive, the old man limped back to his tent. He would never again be in Woodstock, Colorado, on March 10 of any year.
This water tank was restored...
This water tank was restored in 1969 by the Mile-Hi Jeep Club.
There were three such stops...
There were three such stops along the tracks between the town of Pitkin and the Alpine Tunnel.
A lone sign marks the location...
A lone sign marks the location where Woodstock, Colorado, was destroyed in an Avalanche.