A local business owner has taken the helm of the Georgetown Loop
Historic Mining & Railroad Park in time for train operations to
begin May 23.
Mark Graybill, president of newly formed Historic Rail Adventures
LLC, took over the remaining six years of the 10-year management
agreement that Railstar had with the Colorado Historical Society.
Graybill is planning to expand the train’s operating schedule
through December and to bring steam-powered engines back to the
For the past six years he has owned and operated the Georgetown
business End of the Line, and within the last three years received
the contract to operate the Loop’s gift and concession stores.
This March, Graybill said, Ronald Trottier, the owner of
Railstar, approached him with the idea of buying out the remaining
time of the Loop’s contract for an undisclosed amount. The Colorado
Historical Society, which owns the equipment and property, approved
the transaction, and Graybill took over operations May 7. The
Colorado Historical Society has overseen the park since 1959.
The Loop has had its share of problems in recent years. In 2005,
the Federal Railroad Administration inspected the Loop because of a
minor derailment of engine No. 21. The agency was alerted to the
derailment when concerned citizens contacted Denver newspapers.
In 2006, the Loop shut down seven times, and all three engines
broke down at times throughout the season, leaving tourists without
rail for 12 days.
In 2007, the third year with Railstar as operator, the Loop
opened two weeks late, was shut down for 26 days and saw ridership
hit an all-time low of 51,427. Also that year, the FRA informed
Railstar that it would begin overseeing operations.
The decision to oversee the Loop, and other tourist operations
like it, marked a new direction for the FRA into monitoring the
safety of tourist lines.
Graybill, who lives in Gilpin County, said he’s bringing his
experience as a financial manager and as a people manager to the
“I think, in a lot of ways, I’m very familiar with the property,”
Graybill said. “… I feel like I’m part of the community, I really
do, and I have a lot of wonderful friends here.”
He said he understands how important it is to have a skilled and
knowledgeable staff operating the park.
“That’s really significant because it’s the people that really
make the difference, and having people who are that skilled at their
jobs up here is just incredible — that’s probably our most
significant asset at this point,” Graybill said. “Now that we have
the staff in place, we’re going around and evaluating where the
steam program is right now.”
Graybill said getting steam-powered engines back to the Loop as
quickly as possible is a priority, but one that likely wouldn’t
happen until sometime next year. Currently, the engines are all
“The community needs to know that there is a significant level of
commitment here on the part of our staff and the Colorado Historical
Society,” Graybill said. “Being a merchant in Georgetown, I
understand how important the railroad is to the community… . I have
many merchant friends in town who rely on the railroad to bring
Graybill said his own love of trains began at a very young age.
At one point he had hoped to work as a railroad engineer, until he
was diagnosed with color blindness.
After going into management and later retail, Graybill found his
interest in trains had finally come full circle.
“I couldn’t think of anything better,” Graybill said. “I love
Clear Creek County, and I love this railroad … so it’s a good
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