Silver Plume Mayor Sam McCloskey’s past, present and future is on the rails at the Georgetown Loop Railroad.
McCloskey’s great great grandfather worked on the Georgetown Railroad in …
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McCloskey’s great great grandfather worked on the Georgetown Railroad in the 1900s. Back in those days, the steam engines chugged along from Denver to Clear Creek Canyon, hauling passengers and ore from mines. Today, the railroad is a tourist destination where visitors can ride in the cars and get views of the mountains.
While he hasn’t always been a “train guy,” McCloskey has an interest in steam powered engines. Over the last six years, he has worked at the Georgetown Loop, repairing trains, being a conductor and training new hires.
Before working at the Georgetown Loop, McCloskey was a volunteer at a railroad in Oregon, and he worked on steam powered tractors.
The family tradition continues, as McCloskey’s daughter, Jenn, also works at the yard, serving as one of only a few female steam engine engineers in the country. McCloskey estimated there are 10 female engineers nationwide.
McCloskey said his 9-year-old grandson is also interested in the railroad, as he already has eyes on taking over his grandpa's job.
When McCloskey was young, he grew up on a ranch in Elbert. He grew up with two brothers and two sisters, and his family raised cattle and grew wheat on the farm.
“I learned a strong work ethic from my dad,” McCloskey said. “He was a hard working man.”
Growing up as a farmhand led to one of McCloskey’s earlier careers as a bull rider. He spent eight years as a professional rider, attending rodeos in Colorado, Kansas, Wyoming, and wherever he could hop on a bull.
“I made a living at it for a while,” McCloskey said.
Ultimately, the injurious nature of the sport led to his retirement, but McCloskey remembers the feeling of getting on a bull.
“It’s an adrenaline rush for sure,” he said.
Before he started on the railroad, McCloskey owned a company that moved oil rigs. After growing tired with that line of work, McCloskey decided to pursue a career with steam engines, something that had previously only been a hobby.
“I enjoyed what I was doing at the railroad in Oregon, so I started looking for something similar here,” he said.
Years ago, when he was working in North Dakota in the oil fields, McCloskey passed out in sub-zero temperatures due to low blood sugar. His trusty dog, Mack, kept him alive.
"Mack laid there with me for five hours to keep me from freezing to death," he said.
Both of them made it out OK. Now you can find Mack wandering around the train depot with McCloskey, who vowed to only work jobs where Mack was welcome.
The past six years McCloskey has lived in Silver Plume and worked on the railroad with his wife and daughter. For more than two years, he has served as mayor of Silver Plume.
“I got talked into it,” he laughed, recalling what made him run for office.
In a town of 175 residents as of 2020, being mayor is not as easy as some might think. McCloskey came on right as COVID began closing down businesses, and it was difficult to navigate as the leader of a small town.
In his job on the railroad, McCloskey said no day is ever boring. He wears almost all the hats at the train depot, and enjoys the changing environment. He said one of his favorite parts of the job is watching children see trains for the first time.
“We spend a lot of time helping with the guests,” he said.
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