Minturn's railroad history and all about acorns: Kids Corner for the week of 10/12/20 |

Minturn’s railroad history and all about acorns: Kids Corner for the week of 10/12/20

Editor’s note: The Vail Daily’s weekly kids section is chock full of activities and fun to keep the young and the young at heart entertained during the pandemic. If you have an idea for the section or would like to get involved, email Entertainment Editor Casey Russell at

Time travel

Learn about Eagle County history each week.

A train pulls away from the depot at Minturn.
Courtesy ECHS/EVLDA train pulls away from the depot at Minturn.

Minturn is a railroad town.

Early day pioneers referred to the little settlement at the base of Battle Mountain as “Booco,” named for William “Billy” Booco who homesteaded the property in the 1880s. Booco’s cabin was a popular stopping point for travelers headed to the Red Cliff mining camp.

The Denver & Rio Grande Railroad extended its rails from Leadville to Rock Creek (located just below Gilman on Battle Mountain) in 1881, in order to serve the mining camps. For years, the train tracks dead-ended at that point. Travelers headed farther down the Eagle River Valley either hopped on a stagecoach at Red Cliff, walked or rode a horse.

In 1887, when silver mining boomed in Aspen, the D&RG competed with the Midland Railroad to serve that community. The D&RG won that contest, aggressively building rails through the Eagle and Roaring Fork Valleys. Billy Booco’s flat parcel of land was the perfect location for a railroad hub. Booco sold his property to the railroad and moved down river to a new homestead just northwest on Alkali Creek (now known as “Booco Mountain”).

The railroad spent three months figuring out a name for the new town. The first name, “Booco’s Station,” was rejected by D&RG executives. The second name, Kingston Townsite, actually appeared on a railroad map. Finally, the D&RG named the town for railroad executive Robert Minturn, who never actually set foot in the town.

Minturn became an important railroad station. In addition to establishing a depot, the D&RG built a brick roundhouse, with a turntable that allowed workers to turn the weighty steam engines around. The railroad route over Tennessee Pass was one of the steepest stretches on the D&RG line. Extra “helper” engines and crews, used to help push the trains up the pass, were housed at Minturn. The railroad operated a hotel and café.

Rail traffic on the line stopped in 1996, following the merger of the D&RG and Union Pacific railroads, but Minturn’s railroad history lives on.

Time Travel is researched and written by Kathy Heicher, president of the Eagle County Historical Society. Learn more about ECHS at

Outside Scoop


An acorn is a nut, but, from a very specific tree. If you start looking at the ground underneath an oak tree in fall, you will see the brown nuts with a distinctive head that is of a different texture and comes to a point, it almost looks like a hat.

Oak trees that shed acorns can live up to 1,000 years. Acorns usually take between six and 24 months to mature and fall to the ground for the pickings.

You cannot eat an acorn that has just fallen from the tree! Raw (acorns that fall to the ground and are not cooked) have tannins which are poisonous to humans, horses, dogs and cattle. Who loves acorns besides squirrels? They aren’t the only ones to pack their cheeks full. Rabbits, raccoons, voles, opossums, white-tailed deer, and fox enjoy the acorn season.

There are, and have been, many cultures that specially cook the acorn for incredible health attributes such as their sources of vitamin A and C.

Did you know an acorn is a symbol of strength, potential and good fortune to some cultures? The Nordic, Celtic and Japanese all just a few.

Outside Scoop is submitted by freelance journalist Julie Bielenberg. Contact her at

Word of the Week

Learn new words in English and Spanish each week.

acorn / la bellota

Special to the Daily

Riddle me this

Test your wits and smarts with these riddles.

Click or hover over the black boxes to reveal the answer.

Riddle: Why does the ground love October so much?

Because the leaves fall for them.

Riddle: Why did the scarecrow win a medal?

Because he was outstanding in his field.

Riddle: I appear once in summer and twice in autumn, but never in winter. What am I?

The letter U.

Coloring page

This week’s coloring page is by Vail Daily Entertainment Editor Casey Russell. Follow her art on Instagram @caseymrussellart.
Casey Russell |

Print the page here.

Learn how to make your own coloring pages here.

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