Meet Don Robertson

Don Robertson - Writer
Scale Swans Centuries Kosmon Stcars S638
This is the story of Old Number 638
Photos and a poem from the book "Ripples in Time" by Don Robertson

The story begins on a cold snowy day, back on April 9, 1958....

We arrived in the evening
As the sun was slowly setting.
I had been thinking about this for weeks...
From the time when I first heard
That I was going to go to Leadville...
A tiny Colorado town nestled
High among the mountain peaks,
Where a lonely locomotive lingered,
Plodding a tiny isolated branch of
The Colorado & Southern,
My favorite railroad.


I was just a boy of fifteen,
But I already knew well
The great steam-powered locomotives...
From lowly switchers to the mighty giants
That came and left
The railroad yards in Denver
During their final years.

Mr. Herbert was a friend of my father who Wanted to take me along on a business trip.
He told Dad that I needed
A good heart-to-heart "talking to"
(Since my father never did that)
To “straighten me out.”
But no conversation took place.

We just went to Leadville.



When we drove up to the motel,
The snow was falling steadily
And a beautiful white blanket
Already covered the ground.
After dinner we went to bed.
“I have a meeting at seven in the morning,”
         Mr. Herbert said.

In the darkened room,
As the snow quietly fell,
I could hear the lonely pleading tone
Of Old Number 638’s whistle,
Calling into the night
As she arrived from her daily trip
To the Climax mine.


In the morning
Mr. Herbert went to his meeting
And I found my way
Through the high drifts of snow
To the little yard
Where I could hear her idling.
It was a cold, clear morning.
My ears were beet red,
And in the biting cold air
I could see my breath.

As I approached her,
Old 638’s whistle let out
A pleading tone
That echoed around the mountains.
The fireman was shoveling in a load of coal,
Preparing the locomotive
For its daily run
Back to the mine at Climax.
I relished the deep fragrance
Of coal smoke
That drifted from her stack.


Old Number 638 quietly waits
Alone, in the snow,
On a frosty winter’s day
         In Leadville, Colorado

August, 2002

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