Nederland’s Train Cars cafe offers a time-travel experience

Mini donuts!, coffee + traveling back in time by train

By Tatyana Sharpton Jul 10 2020

If you’ve ever stepped foot into Nederland’s funky Train Cars Coffee and Yogurt Company, located at 101 CO-119 right next to the town’s beloved Carousel of Happiness, you know it’s an experience.

The coffee shop, which opens daily at 6:30 a.m. and closes at 6:30 p.m. on weekdays and 7:00 p.m. on weekends in the summer, gives visitors — and regulars — a three-car compilation experience: a dining car, circus car and caboose.

Ornate, red fabric stretches across the ceiling of the dining car, in which the kitchenette resides and where customers order food, coffee and mini donuts! Polished wood built-in booths provide seats as sunlight streams in through the windows and stained glass arched semi-circle inlays above each window.

Up in the nook. Image: Tatyana Sharpton.

The caboose holds the gift shop and a small side room with couches, books and board games. At the end of the gift shop, a metal ladder leads to a hidden loft nook with wooden cubby seats for two.

John Haworth

The circus car, originally built in 1872 for use by the Union Pacific Railroad as a post office car and later converted into Sells Floto Circus’s Car Number Two, which would arrive in towns a few days before the circus, covered in signs promoting the show, occasionally hosts live events at the shop.

“We’ve had poetry readings before, but not as often as we’d like, especially with Covid,” says John Haworth, who works behind the counter, when we asked if The Train Cars ever use the circus car as a performance space.

“It’s kind of hard to party down in a train car! Maybe on the roof someday.”

The dining car, or Pullman Coach, constructed in 1905, served as one of the last plush wooden coaches for the Colorado & Southern Railroad; it had its last ride, from Denver to Louisville, in 1970.

The Caboose

The 37,800-pound caboose, built in 1910 for the Colorado & Southern Railroad, was among the last cabooses of the golden train era to feature an wooden carved ceiling; later models had flat ceilings. At peak operation, it had bunks for eight people, a stove and coal box, lockers, a desk and a cooler. It found its way to Ned after retiring in the wake of the devastating South Platte Flood of 1965.

Can’t forget its house specialty: cinnamon or powdered sugar mini-donuts. (They go fast.)

The Pullman dining car. Image: Tatyana Sharpton.
The Train Cars’ sprawling patio. Image: Tatyana Sharpton.