Union Station

A key entrance to Denver, tunnels were dug to allow famous (or infamous) people to sneak into town. These tunnels ran to hotels, Turkish baths and other places (many of ill-repute.) Before you go searching, the tunnels have long been filled in.

A restaurant inside the station used to feature five-star food including a t-bone for $1.65 or New York steak for $2.25. Sorry, vegetarians, salad was not a main dish. The best you could hope for was scallops or shrimp for $1.25. However, fruit pie was only $.15 so eat dessert for dinner!

Noted bunco artist “Soapy” Smith started his criminal empire on a Union Station corner using the scam of money-wrapped soap bars. A shill would pick pre-arranged piece of soap from a barrel proving one could “win” a $100 for a $.10 bar. No one ever won.

Image President William Taft at Union Station – Denver Public Library – Western History Collection

No stranger to politics, the station has hosted many dignitaries over the years. Presidents such as Roosevelt, Truman and Taft have all stomped in Denver during their campaigns. Sometimes, candidates moved directly to a platform set up in front of the station. After speaking to the crowd, they’d return to the train and leave. This was the only way for voters to see and hear a politician talk (before TV.)


The-once present MIZPAH arch was designed by an East High student. Genesis 31:49 – “May the Lord keep watch over between you and me when we are out of each other’s sight.” Mizpah necklaces were a fad of the 80’s.


4 thoughts on “Union Station

  1. There is a lot of Soapy Smith’s history in the LoDo district, dating between 1879-1895. He operated saloons, gambling houses, rigged auction dens, fake lottery shops, and even a cigar store with back room poker games.

    You can find out more information by visiting my website at http://www.soapysmith.net or my blog at http://www.soapysmiths.blogspot.com. I am the author of Alias Soapy Smith: The Life and Death of a Scoundrel, as well as a great-grandson of Soapy’s.

    I will be setting up a table of Soapy Smith artifacts at the Wild West History Association Roundup in Denver (July 22-27, 2014).

    Jeff Smith

    • I read your book for a Colorado history class at ACC. Thank you for noticing our project. We’re working with Historic Denver to create an augmented reality app for touring Lodo. We’d love to view your site. Do you have any videos you think might benefit our project, especially reenactments or videos that focus on special buildings?

      • Sorry, I do not have any videos.
        I do have some questions regarding a special building, the one that housed Soapy’s saloon and gaming house, the Tivoli Club. I do not know the name of the building but it is located at the 1330s on the southeast corner of Market and Seventeenth streets. I know that it was owned and built in 1887 by William “Henry” Deutsch, who also managed the Tivoli Club for Soapy at one time. There is only a few photographs of the building, yet it appears to have survived a number of years. I have seen the 1890 Sanborn Insurance maps.

        Following is a link to the best photo of the building that I own: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-uMy1TGB3XJ4/TsaMVUdHn7I/AAAAAAAAEfU/CsboqZbXqoA/s1600/Tivoli_Club_BEST.jpg

        This link follows all my blog posts on the Tivoli Club and the building that housed it.

        Thank you for any assistance.
        Jeff Smith

      • The Tivoli isn’t on our list of buildings for the LoDo project we’re working on. However, Bruce Hanson at the Denver Public Library’s Western History Collection has been very helpful. His email is bhanson at denverlibrary.org. he seems to know where the skeletons are kept.

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