(Ridgway) Even as a young girl Lucy Mills had a thing for trains. Growing up near Dallas Divide she witnessed the passing from narrow gauge to split rail to the more modern welded steel rail tracks. She saw freight trains, boxcars, hoppers and flatcars. What ever made her want to chase them is anyone’s guess.

All it took was a whistle or maybe just the rumble of a caboose and she was off. One morning, in a rush to catch a slow gondola car she ran out of the cabin with nothing on but her boots and longhandles. That got some attention.

“We aren’t sure what she’d do if she ever caught one of the trains,” quipped one engineer. “In the beginning I figured she was just a little short of sense but when I saw those eyes gleaming in the light of the engineer’s lamp I knew we were dealing with someone quite special.”

The generally reliable source says he actually observed Mills biting at the cross-ties and the rails themselves.

“She’s like a mad dog when the train comes through town,” he frowned. “Not only is she a danger to herself but she scares our passengers.”

That may not be completely true since many tinhorns and other visitors to our country have taken to wagering bets on Mills and her curious endeavors. Last week, near Portland, a Chinese prince lost an estimated $350 when Mills failed to catch a slow freight. Sadly Mills had to be hog-collared by a nearby hump conductor and three gandy dancers who were busy placing ballast on the roadbed.

One of the fastest women in Ouray County Mills does manage to stay in great shape through her questionable hobby.

“We’d rather see her chasing horses or running down elk but she’s hooked on the trains,” said her father known in town as Pa. “I think it’s the sound and the fact that the trains make such a production of their arrivals and departures. It drives her nuts.”

Several of the leading freight companies have even attempted to hire Mills so as to distract her from the chase but that didn’t work. Apparently she didn’t take to a series of desk jobs preferring to be outside along the tracks.

“At least she doesn’t attempt to ram locomotives like that guy over in Placerville,” said Toole. “Now there was a man obsessed with technology.”

– Casey Jones 

Filed Under: Featured Peeks


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