Old streetcar tracks were uncovered today buried under a section of Walnut street. The City is in the process of replacing water pipes that are over 100 years old and it was while digging up the street for that project that the old tracks were found. Though the wood ties are crumbling and the metal rails are rusted, the find is still an exciting opportunity to look back at a time when you could get almost anywhere you wanted in Fort Collins using the town’s streetcar system — what we might call “light rail” today.
Upon discovering the tracks, work was temporarily halted while the City’s Preservation office was contacted. A local archeological firm was called in and they quickly sent a person down to document the discovery. This information will be stored with the City and the Archive.
Sometimes when historic artifacts are uncovered, new information immediately comes to light. But other times, measurements are taken, a description is written, and other details are recorded and saved for later. We might not have an immediate use for that information, but we simply don’t know now what questions we might have later that could be answered by this find. Archeologists are trained to collect information so that in the future, when these newly discovered tracks are gone, researchers might still be able to answer questions using the information that’s been captured and archived.
One immediate reminder that this discovery brings to light is that once upon a time, Fort Collins was forward thinking enough to realize that when people can get around by streetcar, that leads to fewer automobiles on the street (and therefore less congestion), less of a need for parking, and seniors and youth are able to get around town on their own without needing a car, or a drivers license, to get there.
For more photos of the tracks, check out this photo series by the Coloradoan.