Bronco and Gravity car was preserved through local efforts

Restored Cherrelyn horsecar last ran more than a century ago

Posted 9/7/17

The Cherrelyn horsecar, an important part of Englewood history, stands fully restored in the lobby of the civic center because a number of residents wanted to see it saved and displayed where everyone could see it.

The 1980s restoration project …

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Bronco and Gravity car was preserved through local efforts

Restored Cherrelyn horsecar last ran more than a century ago

Posted

The Cherrelyn horsecar, an important part of Englewood history, stands fully restored in the lobby of the civic center because a number of residents wanted to see it saved and displayed where everyone could see it.

The 1980s restoration project was the last of three efforts to preserve the horsecar and was the most complete. All three efforts were aimed at preventing the loss of the horsecar that earned an important place in Englewood history.

The trolley was the major public transportation vehicle in the metro area in the 1890s and included tracks and trolley service from downtown Denver to what was called the Junction, located at what is now Hampden and Broadway.

“Englewood from the Beginning,” a book published in 1971, reported a real estate company that was developing lots near Broadway and Quincy put in a single set of tracks from Broadway and Hampden to Quincy in 1894 and purchased a horsecar to take prospective buyers about a mile south to the planned development.

There was a problem because the trip south was all uphill, which raised the question about what to do with the horse on the return downhill trip. The solution was to load the horse on the back porch of the vehicle for the return ride.

An article in the 1911 Englewood newspaper stated that when word about the horse on the back of the trolley got around, tourists would ride the electric trolley to Englewood from Denver, get their photo taken by the Cherrelyn horsecar for a small fee and then ride the electric trolley back to Denver. Reportedly, owner John Bogue had the photos developed and mailed them to the tourists.

Another newspaper article from the era stated Quickstep was the first horse to pull the car but was replaced after the first year by other horses to keep the horsecar operating from 1894 until 1910. The article also reported two or three horses were used because a horse usually was given a rest after three or four trips up the long hill. Reportedly the trip the hill took about 15 minutes. Once the horse was loaded on the back of the trolley, the return trip down the hill took less than five minutes.

Electric trolley lines were extended south and the horsecar line was no longer profitable, so the Bronco and Gravity Railroad ended its operation in 1910, but was used for special occasions and celebrations until September 1912.

The horsecar was sold and became a playhouse in the rose garden of a Federal Heights family. When the family was clearing the property in 1950, the horsecar was returned to Englewood. The Englewood Rotary Club paid for the initial restoration. A Denver Post article published in December 1965 reported the horsecar being placed at Englewood City Hall when it was on South Elati Street. It sat outside and, over the years, the weather took its toll on the horsecar, it began to sag, was considered a hazard and in 1980 was removed to the Englewood ServiCenter.

Estimated cost of total restoration was about $40,000. The city didn't have the funds, but in 1987 a group of 19 people formed the Save the Cherrelyn Horsecar Committee.

Four years later, $30,000 had been raised and city employee Jim Haselgren oversaw the restoration. Interviewed by the Englewood Herald in 1990, Haselgren said the horsecar was in very bad shape but could be restored. He said most of the wood had dry-rotted under the metal siding put on the horsecar so he would use those pieces as patterns for new lumber. He also knew those with skill to steam-bend the wood for the ribs of the car and artisans who could etch the glass for the car windows.

The restoration was completed in the early 1990s. It first was placed in the Cinderella City mall, and when the mall was marked for demolition it was moved to its current home in the lobby of the Englewood Civic Center at 1000 Englewood Parkway.

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