Eight thousand feet above sea level, in a little mountain town surrounding a reservoir, sits Train Cars Coffee. Green pine climb up the mountain on a clear blue sky. A bright red caboose greets you in the parking lot with a sign that says “locally owned and operated”. Walking up, you soon realize that in front of you are three real train cars. Renovated to be a cafe yet completely intact. These wooden cars were built in 1872, 1905, and 1910. The Circus Car is still covered in posters from the Sells-Floto Circus that toured the United States during the early 1900’s. The Pullman Car was one of the last plush wooden coaches built. It’s stained glass windows still give away its regality to this day. Sipping coffee on one of these train cars in the Rocky Mountains is a must.
The entrance leads into the caboose. It’s like stepping back in time. You can see the people bustling through the train car. You can hear their skirts trailing against the wood as the train pulls into station.
Vintage Cracker Jack boxes are stacked on a shelf. Retro tin signs line wooden walls urging passengers to sip coffee. A friendly voice chimes in from the left. The chalkboard menu with scribbles of neon words is the only reminder that it’s 2016.
Organic coffee is roasted right up the highway and brought down to the coffee shop daily. Loose leaf teas are blended in Boulder, CO. It’s an eclectic little menu. Fresh fruit smoothies, spicy green chili, and even tamales are served up. Lox and bagel are on the menu too. A major contender. It seems I'm on some subconscious hunt for the ultimate lox and bagel. There’s a sweet warmth in the air. Mini doughnuts are dropped fresh every morning. It lingers like a glaze inside.The girl behind the counter shares information freely. She's unpretentious and welcoming to visitors. During the winter months, she works further up in the mountain producing snow for ski season. When spring arrives she journeys down to Nederland to work in the cafe. She’s a nomad herself.
The lattes were okay. Nostalgia definitely made up for it. The lox helped too. An everything bagel topped with plain cream cheese, red onion, lox, and capers was walked over to our tiny wooden table. The lox was salty. Just like I like it. Surprisingly, I didn't even need lemon. It’s not the be-all-to-end-all of lox and bagels but fresh lox is hard to find everywhere. The doughnuts made up for it too. Those crunchy little rounds with a cake like center are dusted with powdered or cinnamon sugar. Ask for honey, or chocolate, or caramel on the side to dip in. They say you get half a dozen for $2.25. What we got was 9. Maybe, we’re just that charming. A dozen goes for $4.20. The pricing was intentional according to our friend behind the counter.
There’s seating in every car. Wooden tables and chairs line the walls, right under wooden windows that let in cool mountain air, bees and all. Their reliable wifi kept us a few more hours than intended. Several comfy couches are scattered around. I grabbed a few local publications and allowed myself to be swallowed up in one. It’s uncommon to have an entire train car to oneself. On the rare occasion it happens, bask in it.
The circus car had a few coloring book and kid appropriate reads for anyone visiting with littles. Pinned, nailed, and even taped all around are printouts on the history of the train cars and the town of Nederland.
"AS THE LEGEND GOES, THERE IS A FROZEN DEAD GUY ATOP NEDERLAND. HE’S KNOWN AFFECTIONATELY AS GRANDPA BREDO AND HAS BEEN IN A CRYONIC STATE FOR 25 YEARS. GRANDPA BREDO LIVED IN NORWAY BUT UPON HIS DEATH HE WAS PACKED IN DRY ICE, SHIPPED TO CALIFORNIA, USA AND PLACED IN LIQUID NITROGEN. HE WAS BROUGHT TO NEDERLAND BECAUSE HIS DAUGHTER AND GRANDSON LIVED THERE. THEY WERE EVENTUALLY DEPORTED BACK TO NORWAY BUT MANAGE TO KEEP GRANDPA ON ICE WITH THE MONTHLY HELP OF AN “ICE MAN” AND VOLUNTEERS."
So, I’m up in a mountain where a frozen grandpa is stored. I’m sipping coffee in a train car from 1905 and there is no other place like it. The hours are reasonable for such a small town. Monday through Friday is 6:30am-6pm. Saturday and Sunday you get an extra half hour before closing. There are quite a few open chairs right now. Great time to visit.