“The Burnham Yards” operated as one of Denver’s most significant railyards before Colorado was even a state. The Burnham facility played a central role in the operations of the Denver & Rio Grande railroad for nearly a century and a half, from the railroad’s origins in 1871, to its eventual merger with Southern Pacific in 1988. Burnham continued to serve as a Southern Pacific maintenance facility until its closure in 2016. This railroad complex was the employer of career railroad machinist James N. Lhotak, from 1963 to 1998. The Pueblo Railway Foundation was recently the beneficiary of a large donation of railroad artifacts from Mr. Lhotak’s estate. Among the many artifacts are a handful of 35mm slides of the interior of the Burnham yards, where Mr. Lhotak worked. As part of his lifelong passion for photography, Mr. Lhotak took the slides shown below in 1991.
Since the closure of the Burnham yards, Historic Denver has been working to preserve elements of the site. Historic Denver hopes to see the creation of an industrial historic district, where selected buildings of Burnham are preserved. After the site closed, Historic Denver commissioned the Burnham Yard Report to document the history of Burnham Yards. You can find this report here.
If you enjoy these slides, follow our Instagram page where we will be posting more photos from The James N. Lhotak Digital Exhibition. For more background on the Exhibition itself, you can find our feature article on our Home Page by clicking here. Starting in January, we will begin posting photos from this Exhibition in a special photo album on our Facebook page. These posts are just getting started, so follow our social media and join us on this journey through railroad history!