Colorado Railroad History

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Colorado & Clear Creek Railroad (C&CC)

-first railroad chartered in Colorado, to be built from Golden up Clear Creek to the mining camps. This railroad was financed by Golden investments, including W. A. H. Loveland.


Colorado & Clear Creek

- renamed Colorado Central & Pacific Railroad (CC&P)


Colorado Central & Pacific

- broke ground to connect Golden and Denver

- reorganized and refinanced with Union Pacific backing

Denver Pacific Railway & Telegraph (DP)

- organized to connect Denver with the Union Pacific in Cheyenne, WY

Union Pacific (UP)

- track crossed the northeastern corner of Colorado near Julesburg


Colorado Central & Pacific

- no track was laid, but 6 miles was graded for the between Golden and Denver

Denver Pacific Railway & Telegraph

- ground breaking to connect Denver and Cheyenne


Colorado Central & Pacific

- renamed Colorado Central Railroad Company (CC)

Denver Pacific Railway & Telegraph

- track reached Evans, CO

Union Pacific

- continental railway was completed in Utah


Colorado Central

-first train left Golden and arrived in Denver, via Denver Pacific Railway & Telegraph track

Denver & Rio Grande Railway Company (D&RG)

- charted to build south from Denver to Mexico City and west into the mining regions of Colorado

- first narrow gauge train in the state

Denver Pacific Railway & Telegraph

- first passenger train reached Denver

- built with the financial assistance of the Kansas Pacific Railroad (KP), which was building from Kansas City, MO to Denver

-- both Kansas Pacific & Colorado Central were interested in gaining control of any railroads built into the mountains

Kansas Pacific

- track reached Denver


Denver & Rio Grande

- track to Colorado Springs complete, service did not start until 1872 due to weather delays


Colorado Central

- finally started construction up Clear Creek towards the mining camps of Black Hawk, Central City, Idaho Springs and Georgetown

Denver & Rio Grande

- track reached Pueblo

- track to the coalfields of Florence

- road graded to Cañon City – track ended 9 miles short of town due to lack of funds

- D&RG board opted to enter New Mexico via Raton Pass instead of going through the Royal Gorge to save about 100 miles of construction

Denver, South Park & Pacific Railway Company (DSP&P)

- incorporated by ex-Territorial Governor John Evans and Denver businessmen to build narrow gauge west and tunnel under the Continental Divide to reach the Pacific coast


Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad (AT&SF)

- building from the east, reached Granada

Colorado Central

- continued from Floyds Creek to Floyd Hill, they also started building eastward from Golden to Longmont

Denver, South Park & Pacific

- reorganized as the Denver, South Park & Pacific Railroad Company (DSP&P) to build up the South Platte River canyon, the mining camps in southwest Colorado and on to the Pacific coast via Yuma, AZ

- started construction to Morrison. This branch was for coal, stone and lumber to Denver

Union Pacific

- Jay Gould gained control, with plans of building a large network of feeder railroads


Denver & Rio Grande

- track reached Canon City

Denver, South Park & Pacific

- completed track to Morrison


Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe

- completed 84 miles between Granada and Rocky Ford

Denver & Rio Grande

- no construction

Denver, South Park & Pacific

- spent the year trying to raise money in Fairplay, no new construction


671 miles of standard gauge and 257 miles of narrow gauge had been laid by years end

Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe

- reached Pueblo

Denver & Rio Grande

- reached La Veta

- bypassed Trinidad, CO, when no support was provided by the city

-- D&RG platted and sold real estate creating the town of El Moro

Denver, South Park & Pacific

- resumed construction after John Evans secured financing from his brother


Colorado Central

- completed track from Floyd Hill to Georgetown

- through service from Cheyenne via Ft Collins and Longmont to Denver began

Denver & Rio Grande

- General Palmer visited the Leadville Mining District and decides to build the town

Denver, South Park & Pacific

- completed 6 miles of grade in South Platte Canyon

- plans to head for the San Juan mining camps abandoned

- plans to head for Leadville completed


During the late 70s and early 80s there was fierce competition among Denver & Rio Grande, and Denver, South Park & Pacific, and Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe, and Colorado Central to be the first to reach Leadville

Jay Gould and W. A. H. Loveland were behind a scheme to build across the Continental Divide, but Gould was also trying to gain control of the Denver & Rio Grande

Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe

- first train arrives in Trinidad

- battling with the Denver & Rio Grande for control of Raton Pass, south of Trinidad, and of the Royal Gorge route to Leadville

-- AT&SF took possession of Raton Pass on February 26 by placing a construction crew there

-- the next morning the D&RG arrived to find themselves outwitted

- offered to buy Denver, South Park & Pacific stock

-- a clause in the lease with the Denver & Rio Grande required D&RG approval of any traffic arrangements with competing railroads, thus the D&RG was able to block the stock purchase

- General Palmer went to court and accused the AT&SF of giving secret financial aid to Denver, South Park & Pacific

Colorado Central

- extended its Clear Creek branch from Black Hawk to Central City

Denver & Rio Grande

- battling with the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe for control of Raton Pass, south of Trinidad, and of the Royal Gorge route to Leadville

-- AT&SF took possession of Raton Pass on February 26 by placing a construction crew there

-- the next morning the D&RG arrived to find themselves outwitted

- shareholders lease the railroad to the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe

-- General Palmer, president of the D&RG, opposed this move and continually fought the terms of the lease

-- court costs climbed as lawsuits were filed

- completed 30 miles of track from Garland City to Alamosa

Denver, South Park & Pacific

- Jay Gould offered to buy half the stock but was turned down

- arrived at Webster after laying 51 miles of track


Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe

- continued to build westward from Canon City through the Royal Gorge to Texas Creek

- The US Supreme Court ruled that the Denver & Rio Grande had prior right to the Royal Gorge route, but did not deny Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe right-of-way

Colorado Central

- installed a third rail between Denver and Golden, the first dual gauge line in the state

Denver & Rio Grande

- The US Supreme Court ruled that the Denver & Rio Grande had prior right to the Royal Gorge route, but did not deny Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe right-of-way

- forced into receivership and Jay Gould sought to purchase a half-interest in the railroad (he never did obtain control)

- granted rights to build a line from Buena Vista to Leadville

- joint operating agreement with the Denver, South Park & Pacific was signed, the objective being a peaceful coexistence between the two railroads

- granted rental on Denver, South Park & Pacific across Alpine Pass to Gunnison

- had no track construction due to costly court battles

Denver, South Park & Pacific

- Jay Gould was stock so he could gain control of any railroad built into Leadville

- completed track between Webster and Kenosha Pass

- reached Como

- reached Trout Creek Pass

- joint operating agreement with the Denver & Rio Grande was signed, the objective being a peaceful coexistence between the two railroads

- granted rental on the Denver & Rio Grande from Buena Vista to Leadville

- granted rights to build a line across Alpine Pass to Gunnison and the Denver & Rio Grande was granted rental on that track

- completed survey to Gunnison and contracts awarded for construction of the Alpine Tunnel under the Continental Divide


Treaty of Boston was signed by the Union Pacific (which now controlled the Denver, South Park & Pacific), the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe and the Denver & Rio Grande. A stipulation was the cancellation of Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fes lease of the Denver & Rio Grande and return of all stock. The Denver & Rio Grande exited receivership. Another stipulation was that the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe and Union Pacific agreed to not build into the mountains of central Colorado for 10 years and the Denver & Rio Grande was granted rights to build into Leadville on a grade finished by Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe. The last stipulation was that the Denver & Rio Grande was not to build south of Trinidad or Espanola, NM.

Denver & Rio Grande

- first train arrives in Leadville

- resumed construction along the Arkansas River from Texas Creek to Buena Vista to Leadville

- Blue River Extension reached the summit of Fremont Pass & Kokomo

- major expansion with 347 miles of track completed, including the Blue River Extension and the Eagle River Extension from Malta to Crane’s Park 10 miles north of Leadville

- completed the San Juan Extension from Alamosa to Chama, NM, and the New Mexico Extension between Antonito and Espanola, NM, as well as several other short branches. - Because Gould continued to buy Denver, South Park & Pacific stock, he broke the Joint Operating Agreement of 1879. Thus the D&RG felt free to start construction across Marshall Pass to Gunnison

Denver, South Park & Pacific

- starts running trains from Denver to Leadville using Denver & Rio Grande track between Buena Vista and Leadville

- trains running from Trout Creek to Buena Vista.

- track built southward to Nathrop and westward up Chalk Creek to St Elmo

- work continued on the Alpine Tunnel


Burlington & Colorado Railroad (B&C)

- reached Wray

Colorado Central

- completed 4.5 miles of track between Georgetown and Silver Plume

- started passenger service between Denver and Omaha on their Julesburg Branch

Denver & Rio Grande

- completed the 2-mile Fryer Branch to reach several mines east of Leadville

- Eagle River Extension continued from Crane’s Park to Redcliff

- completed the San Juan Extension from Chama, NM, to Durango

- Gunnison Extension reached Gunnison

- Blue River Extension reached Wheeler

- Union Pacific raised rates, resulting in D&RG gaining more traffic

- Union Pacific filed suit against D&RG to block building along the Blue River, the D&RG claimed prior rights

- added 383 miles of narrow gauge, and 123 miles of dual gauge between Denver and Pueblo. The line to Salt Lake City was started.

Denver, South Park & Pacific

- believed that since the Denver & Rio Grande broke the Joint Operating Agreement by building on Marshall Pass, they could build their own track into Leadville.

-- this ended all prior agreements between the two railroads

-- DSP&P starts on the High Line Extension to Leadville via Boreas Pass, 21 miles shorter than the D&RG Trout Creek – Arkansas River route

- track was completed from St Elmo to the Alpine Tunnel. Tunnel work continued all year.

- reached the top of Boreas Pass via Como and Breckenridge

- Union Pacific gained full control of DSP&P when Gould sold his stock to UP

Georgetown, Breckenridge, and Leadville Railway (GB&L)

- a Union Pacific company, was incorporated to build from Georgetown to Leadville via a tunnel under the Continental Divide

Union Pacific

- gained full control of Denver, South Park & Pacific when Gould sold his stock to UP.

- filed suit against Denver & Rio Grande to block building along the Blue River, the D&RG claimed prior rights


Burlington & Colorado

- reached Denver

Denver & Rio Grande

- built 217 miles of track. Most of its resources went to the Denver to Salt Lake mainline.

- operated up to 90% of all traffic on the Buena Vista – Leadville track

-- Denver, South Park & Pacific refused to pay its share for using that track

-- D&RG filed suit to collect these fees.

- 11 mile Blue River Extension completed from Wheeler to Dillon

Denver, South Park & Pacific

- completed 30 miles of track from Boreas Pass to Breckenridge

- reached Gunnison via Alpine Tunnel

- completed a branch to Fairplay and Alma

- completed track from Breckenridge to Dillon

- Gov. Evans removed as president, starts the Denver & New Orleans Railroad

- operated 201 miles of track from Denver to Gunnison


Colorado Midland Railway Company (CM)

- incorporated to build a standard gauge railroad from Colorado Springs, through Ute Pass to South Park and Leadville

Denver & Rio Grande

- completed 33 miles of narrow gauge

- obtained rights to build a 3-mile spur into California Gulch

- opened the mainline to Salt Lake City for business

Denver, South Park & Pacific

- built from Gunnison north towards the coal mines at Baldwin, and some track up Ohio Creek

- settled suit with Denver & Rio Grande from previous year

- started construction from Dillon to Leadville


Colorado Midland

- articles of incorporation were amended to build branches to Aspen, Fairplay, Alma and the western border of Colorado through a tunnel at Hagerman Pass

Denver & Rio Grande

- Problems between D&RG and Denver, South Park & Pacific continue

- completed a tunnel and alignment changes near Bridgeport

- forced into receivership due to debts from recent expansions

- Leadville roundhouse was destroyed by fire, five D&RG locomotives badly damaged

Denver, South Park & Pacific

- Problems between Denver & Rio Grande and DSP&P continue

- Highline Extension to Leadville completed

- starts regular train service to Leadville via the Highline Extension

- Highline Extension route was 126 miles shorter than the Denver & Rio Grande route through Pueblo and Salida, but due to crossing the Continental Divide twice operations were much more difficult. The Leadville mining boom had already peaked, so the volume of freight traffic was less than expected. The costs of building and operating the Highline Extension forced the DSP&P into receivership

- Leadville roundhouse was destroyed by fire, one DSP&P locomotive badly damaged

Georgetown, Breckenridge, and Leadville Railway

- extended the Colorado Central track 8 miles from Georgetown via the Georgetown Loop to Silver Plume and on to Graymont


Denver & Rio Grande and the Denver, South Park & Pacific worried about competition from standard gauge Colorado Midland in Leadville

285 railroads have been incorporated in the State of Colorado


Colorado Midland

- Contracts awarded for the first construction from Colorado Springs

- three miles of track were laid to Colorado City and 8 tunnels were completed on Ute Pass

- work started east from Leadville but this did not last long as the Denver & Rio Grande and Denver, South Park & Pacific charged the CM high prices to transport equipment

- work started on the Hagerman Tunnel

Denver & Rio Grande

- sold by its bondholders at a foreclosure sale, reorganized as the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad Company.


Colorado Midland

- reached Leadville

-- 8-stall roundhouse

-- depot

-- service facilities

- Hagerman Tunnel completed and reached Glenwood Springs

- completes 222 miles from Colorado Spring to Newcastle

-- 17 tunnels and several trestles

Denver & Rio Grande

- built 148 miles of branches, including Glenwood Springs to Aspen, beating Colorado Midland to Aspen

- built 3 mile cutoff between Leadville and Leadville Junction so trains from Aspen could go directly to Leadville smelters

- Jackson retires as president

-- David H Moffat named new president


Aspen Short Line Railroad (ASL)

- a Colorado Midland company, incorporated to build a 6.5 mile cutoff from Crystal Lake to Leadville

Colorado Midland

- reached Aspen

- surveys new route and tunnel under Continental Divide

-- bypasses Hagerman Tunnel

--- shorter route and lower grades

Denver & Rio Grande

- continues to add standard gauge third rails to compete with Colorado Midland

- lays several short branches to coal and metal mines

Denver, South Park & Pacific

- in receivership, no interest earned on bonds

-- blamed on Union Pacific mismanagement


Aspen Short Line

- completes cutoff between Crystal Lake and Leadville

Colorado Midland

- leases Aspen Short Line

Denver & Rio Grande

- reorganized as the Rio Grande Western Railway (RGW)

- some narrow-gauge routes abandoned, others relocated and/or standard-gauged

- adds 70 miles and reduces 3-rail track by 39 miles

Denver, Leadville & Gunnison

- received its first rotary snowplow, put to work in Leadville

Denver, South Park & Pacific

- reorganized as the Denver, Leadville & Gunnison Railway (DL&G); continues to be owned by Union Pacific

Rio Grande Southern Railroad (RGS)

- incorporated


Busk Tunnel Railway Company (BT)

- incorporated to build Busk-Ivanhoe Tunnel

-- lower and longer than Hagerman Tunnel

--- significantly reduced grade and trestles

Denver & Rio Grande

- completes new alignment from Leadville to Pando

-- builds tunnel under Tennessee Pass

- standard gauged from Denver to Grand Junction, via Leadville

Denver, Leadville & Gunnison

- sends rotary to Alpine Pass

-- blocked for weeks

-- successfully opened pass in three days

- buys eight new narrow gauge locomotives

- cannot compete with Denver & Rio Grande faster standard gauge service

Union Pacific

- almost bankrupt

-12 railroads owned by UP are combined into a single system, the Union Pacific, Denver & Gulf Railway Company


Denver & Rio Grande

- Moffat resigned

-- replaced by Edward T Jeffery

- using standard gauge locomotives to pull narrow gauge trains on 3-rail sections

- heavily involved in financing of Rio Grande Southern



Financial panic bankrupts Union Pacific, Atchinson, Topeka & Santa Fe, and Colorado Midland; Denver & Rio Grande survives panic

Busk Tunnel Railway Company

- completes Busk-Ivanhoe Tunnel, track leased to Colorado Midland

Colorado Midland

- purchases Aspen Short Line

Denver, Leadville & Gunnison

- earnings down 1/3

- new depot built in Leadville (used today by the Leadville, Colorado & Southern Railroad (LC&S)

Rio Grande Southern

- lapsed into bankruptcy and control was assumed by the D&RG


Colorado Midland

- in receivership

Denver & Rio Grande

- hit hard with flooding in Arkansas River valley


Atchinson, Topeka & Santa Fe

- receivership discharged

Denver & Rio Grande

- can afford little for maintenance

- purchased the Texas, Santa Fe & Northern

-- completes a link between Espanola, NM, and Santa Fe

-- nicknamed the "Chili Line"

Denver, Leadville & Gunnison

- builds one short spur



Colorado Midland

- sold at foreclosure and reorganized

- resumes use of Hagerman Tunnel due to costs of using the Busk-Ivanhoe Tunnel

Denver, Leadville & Gunnison

- builds covered turntable and roundhouse at Climax

- buys three new locomotives

-- last bought by the line

- operates four daily passenger trains between Denver and Leadville


Colorado & Southern Railway (C&S)

- organized by holders of Union Pacific and Denver, Leadville & Gunnison

Denver & Rio Grande

- builds Chrysolite Extension to several mines in Leadville area

-- reaches 11,522 feet, the highest altitude reached by the D&RG

Denver, Leadville & Gunnison

- sold at foreclosure, due to Union Pacific bankruptcy

Leadville Mineral Belt Railway (LMB)

- incorporated, under Denver, Leadville & Gulf control, to build short connection between DL&G, Denver & Rio Grande, and Colorado Midland on the south end of Leadville. Several short spurs are also constructed


Colorado Midland

- Hagerman Tunnel route blocked by snow for 77 days

-- four engines buried in snow

- buys Busk-Ivanhoe Tunnel

-- abandons Hagerman Tunnel route

Colorado & Southern

- assumes control of Denver, Leadville & Gunnison and Union Pacific, Denver & Gunnison

-- 328 miles of track from Denver to Leadville and Gunnison

-- 55 miles of track from Denver to Silver Plume

- maintains four passenger train per day schedule to Leadville

- blocked by snow between Cosmo and Leadville for 122 days

Denver & Rio Grande

- hires miners to shovel snow off tracks around Leadville

- train on Blue River Branch caught in avalanche

Rio Grande Western

- Palmer lets it be know he want to sell the railroad


Denver & Rio Grande, Rio Grande Western and Colorado & Southern buy Colorado Midland, Denver & Rio Grande buys out Rio Grande Western portion next year, Denver & Rio Grande and Colorado & Southern now have access to booming Cripple Creek gold fields

Leadville Mineral Belt

- completes construction of 2.9 mile route to several Leadville mines

Colorado & Southern

- buys Leadville Mineral Belt


Denver & Rio Grande

- Palmer sells the Rio Grande Western to the D&RG

-- both lines retain separate operations, but same management

-- Jeffery named president of both railroads

-- Palmer retires to Colorado Springs


Denver, Northwest & Pacific (DNW&P)

- David Moffat started construction of the railroad

-- known as the Moffat Road

-- west from Denver to the undeveloped areas of northwest Colorado and Utah.

-- route was up South Boulder Canyon and over Corona Pass, a 4% grade.



Denver, Northwest & Pacific (DNW&P)

- Moffat Road completed to Middle Park



Colorado Midland

- abandons 5 miles of track from Snowden to Leadville, traffic routed through Arkansas Junction


Electricity reached Leadville reducing coal traffic


General William Jackson Palmer dies quietly, having been confined to a wheelchair following a riding accident in 1906

Chicago, Burlington & Quincy (CB&Q)

- buys Colorado & Southern Railway.

-- CB&Q now controls 2000 miles of track

--- route from the Pacific Northwest to Galveston, TX

-- C&S operated as a subsidiary

Colorado Midland

- struggling financially

Denver & Rio Grande

- merges with Rio Grande Western forming the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad Company (D&RG)

-- Jeffery remained president

Denver, Northwest & Pacific (DNW&P)

- Moffat Road reached Steamboat Springs



Colorado & Southern

- loses route west of Arkansas River Valley due to Alpine Tunnel cave-in

- major washouts between Trout Creek Pass and Buena Vista forever closing this route

- suspends service across Boreas Pass

- now has four disconnected sections

-- Breckenridge to Leadville

-- Buena Vista to Hancock

-- Quartz to Baldwin

-- Denver to Como

Denver & Rio Grande

- cave-in on Tennessee Pass

-- uses Colorado Midland track between Snowden and Newcastle until reopened


Mining is declining; several narrow gauge branches begin abandonment

Colorado & Southern

- takes over all traffic on Blue River Extension between Leadville and Dillon

-- No trains ran on Blue River Extension after February

- operates daily trains between Leadville and Breckenridge

Denver & Rio Grande

- leases Baldwin branch from Colorado & Southern

- takes over Colorado & Southern track between Quartz, Gunnison and Baldwin

-- builds spur connecting Parlin and Quartz


Colorado Midland

- remains in receivership

Colorado & Southern

- sells its portion of Colorado Midland to a New York company

Denver & Rio Grande

- retains 50% of Colorado Midland


Colorado & Southern

-resumes service across Boreas Pass to Leadville

Denver & Rio Grande

- adds third rail to Grahm Park and Wolftone branches


Denver & Rio Grande

- attempts to rid itself of the Western Pacific

-- WP defaults and the D&RG has to assume the WP’s debts


Colorado & Southern

- petitions for abandonment of the Denver to Leadville route, but is denied by the ICC



US Railroad Administration (USRA) took over control of all railroads for the duration of WW I

Colorado Midland

- sold at foreclosure to A E Carlton and Spencer Penrose of Colorado Springs

-- reincorporated as Colorado Midland Railroad Company

Denver & Rio Grande

- track from Leadville to Graham Park and Ibex standard gauged


Denver & Rio Grande

- enters receivership due to Western Pacific debt

Colorado Midland

- spurs to Leadville mines abandoned

- final passenger train from Grand Junction to Colorado Springs

- USRA transfers all CM traffic to Denver & Rio Grande due to operational difficulties

-- final blow to CM


Colorado Midland

- abandons Aspen Branch and line between Leadville and Arkansas Junction


Railroads released from federal control March 1st

Colorado Midland

- officially abandoned

Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad (D&RGW)

- courts rule the D&RG is responsible for the principal of the Western Pacific bonds

-- bondholders force a sale of the D&RG at auction.

-- WP bondholders purchase the D&RG for $5 million dollars

-- new company is incorporated as the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad


massive flooding of Pueblo

- Colorado ties flood clean up monies to funding for the Moffat Tunnel

Colorado Midland

- dismantling begins

-- track between Divide and Newcastle removed

Denver & Rio Grande Western

- assumes control of Denver & Rio Grande

- repairs 41 miles of flooded track between Canon City and Pueblo


Colorado Midland

- legally dissolved

Colorado & Southern

- track between Schwnders and Garos removed

-- had not been used in several years

Denver & Rio Grande Western

- forced into receivership due to the depression, 1921 flood and poor equipment maintenance

-- Joseph Young, the latest railroad president, was named trustee

-- court demands and authorizes monies for improvements

--- $47 million eventually spent on new equipment

- rebuilds and improves grade between Mata and Salida

Midland Terminal Railway (MT)

- buys Colorado Midland track between Divide and Colorado Springs creating a route to Cripple Creek


Colorado & Southern

- track between Parlin and Gunnison, and between Hancock and Quartz were sold

Denver & Rio Grande Western

- abandons Blue River Branch between Leadville and Dillon

Denver, Northwest & Pacific (DNW&P)

- construction of the 6.21-mile Moffat Tunnel commenced


Colorado & Southern

- now handles all Freemont Pass traffic

- abandons track between Buena Vista and Hancock

Denver & Rio Grande Western

- exits receivership

-- reorganization puts the railroad under control of the Missouri Pacific and Western Pacific

-- J S Pyeatt named president

- track from Dillon to Leadville is pulled


Denver & Rio Grande Western

- pulls third (narrow gauge) rail between Salida and Leadville


Colorado & Southern

- pulls track between Buena Vista and Romley


Denver & Rio Grande Western

- finally starts some much needed maintenance


Colorado & Southern

- again petitions to abandon 185 miles beyond Waterton

-- ICC again denies request

Denver & Rio Grande Western

- installs Centralized Traffic Control on Tennessee Pass

-- first west of the Mississippi




Colorado & Southern

- abandons track between Black Hawk and Central City



Colorado & Southern

- pulls the Morrison Branch of the old South Park


Denver & Rio Grande Western

- pulls the line from Quartz to Parlin


Colorado & Southern

- petitions to abandon 116 miles

-- Waterton to Climax

-- Como to Garo

-- Alma to Leadville

---14 mile High Line from Climax to Leadville was to remain due to increasing production from Climax mine

- used rotary to clear heavy snows 35-36 winter in Ten Mile canyon and on the High Line


Colorado & Southern

- abandonment’s finally approved

- begins pulling track from Idaho Springs to Silver Plume

-- Georgetown Loop dismantled


Colorado & Southern

- abandons route over Boreas Pass to Leadville

- last passenger train left Leadville on April 4th

- now transfers Climax mine product to Denver & Rio Grande Western in Leadville

- leaves three engines and assorted rolling stock in Leadville to service Climax

- abandons mines east of Leadville and Graham Park

- everything south of station abandoned


Colorado & Southern

- mainline between Leadville and Waterton pulled


Colorado & Southern

- completes pulling track between Idaho Springs and Silver Plume


Denver & Rio Grande Western

- discontinues passenger service to Leadville

- abandons Leadville to Leadville Junction branch


Colorado & Southern

- abandons and pulls track between Golden, Idaho Springs and Black Hawk

Denver & Rio Grande Western

- pulls track to Graham Park, Wolftone, North Moyer and in California Gulch due to mine closures


Colorado & Southern

- abandons and pulls track between Denver and Chatfield


Busk-Ivanhoe Tunnel converted to water diversion

Colorado & Southern

- High Line between Climax and Leadville standard gauged

-- last narrow gauge train on August 25


Denver & Rio Grande Western

- pulls Ibex and Chrysolite branches due to mineral mining being curtailed in WW II and needing the track elsewhere


Busk-Ivanhoe Tunnel closed by cave-in

Denver & Rio Grande Western

- replaces Tennessee Pass tunnel with a longer one




Denver & Rio Grande Western

- starts to abandon narrow gauge




Rio Grande Southern

- completely abandoned





Denver & Rio Grande Western

- abandons Marshall Pass route to Gunnison



Carlton Tunnel converted to water use

Denver & Rio Grande Western

- mainline completely automatic block controlled



Georgetown Loop Historical Park was created


Colorado & Southern

- has to run converted narrow gauge rotary snow plow on High Line


Colorado & Southern

- last full year of steam operation on High Line


Colorado & Southern

- last steam run on September 12th

-- last steam use by a Class I railroad


Denver & Rio Grande Western

- pulled remaining California Gulch track





Denver & Rio Grande Western

- Silverton Branch was designated a National Historic Landmark



Denver & Rio Grande Western

- abandons San Juan Extension from Antonito to Durango

- ICC requires Silverton Branch to remain in operation


Burlington Northern Railroad (BN)

- Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, the Great Northern, and Northern Pacific merge 

-- Colorado & Southern continues to operate as a subsidiary

Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad (C&TS)

- joint operation between the states of Colorado and New Mexico purchases 65 miles of the San Juan Extension (Antonito to Chama, NM) from the Denver & Rio Grande Western




Georgetown Loop Railroad (GLRR)

- reconstruction of the Georgetown Loop and track from Georgetown to Silver Plume begins








Staggers Act of 1980 deregulated railroad rates, increasing competition for traffic. The Rock Island collapsed, the UP, WP and Missouri Pacific merged cutting off the Rio Grande connection to the West. The Rio Grande gained the Missouri Pacific line from Pueblo to Kansas City, preserving the link to the East. The UP merger also cut off the Southern Pacific (SP), eventually causing the SP and Rio Grande to join forces.


Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge (D&SNG)

- Charles Bradshaw purchases the Silverton Branch from the Denver & Rio Grande Western

- renames it the D&SNG

- adds more trains to schedule


Colorado & Southern

- shuts down High Line due to massive mine layoffs



Denver & Rio Grande Western

- Philip Anschutz, a Denver billionaire, purchased Rio Grande Industries, the parent company of the railroad

-- Anschutz was very interested in the railroad, purchasing new business cars and frequently touring the line

- Holtman remained president

Georgetown Loop Railroad

- Devils Gate High Bridge (Georgetown Loop) completed



Colorado & Southern

- last run over the High Line in October


Burlington Northern

- sells High Line and equipment to Stephanie and Kenneth Olsen of Leadville for $10

- Denver & Rio Grande Western delivers Burlington Northern equipment to Leadville


Denver & Rio Grande Western
Southern Pacific Lines

- Anschutz feared the Rio Grande would become isolated

-- after the ICC denied a Santa Fe - SP merger in 1987, he saw a chance to expand and purchase the SP

- the ICC approved the purchase in 1988

- the deal cost the Rio Grande Industries $1 billion, plus assuming the SP debt of $780 million

- Anschutz now owned the fifth largest railroad in the country (Rio Grande, SP, Cotton Belt), now known as Southern Pacific Lines (SPL)

- rights-of-way now covered much of the country and he would use these rights-of-way to lay fiber optics for his new company, SP Telecom.

Leadville, Colorado & Southern Railroad (LC&S)

- first run over the High Line from Leadville to Climax on Memorial Day

- summer scenic operations still continue.


Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge

- roundhouse fire

-- building destroyed

-- all six operable locomotives saved


Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge

- rebuilt roundhouse opens

-- now the largest steam locomotive shop in the world

- during the ‘90s, passengers grow to over 200,00 per year






Denver & Rio Grande Western
Southern Pacific Lines

- Anschutz offered the SPL to Union Pacific in 1995

-- SPL had more traffic than locomotives to pull it, but he believed the Burlington Northern – Santa Fe (BNSF) merger earlier that year could shut down the SPL

- Surface Transportation Board (the ICC successor), agreed after UP gave major concessions to its competition, one of which was the BNSF gained trackage rights between Denver and California via the Moffat Road.


Denver & Rio Grande Western
Southern Pacific Lines
Union Pacific

- merger was complete with Union Pacific on September 11, 1996


Denver & Rio Grande Western

- the Rio Grande ceased to exist as a corporation on June 30, outliving the Southern Pacific on paper

Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge

- purchased by First American Railways, Inc

Union Pacific

- closed Tennessee Pass in August, stating that it was redundant.


Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge

- purchased by Carol and Al Harper, of American Heritage Railways, who also own the Great Smoky Mountain Railway

Union Pacific

- sells Canon City & Royal Gorge Railroad and Rock & Rail, Inc each a 50 percent share of 12 miles of track from Canon City to Parkdale

-- traffic control and maintenance remain under the control of UP

Rock & Rail, Inc

- operates a regular ore train between their mines above Parkdale to Canon City

Royal Gorge Route

- first revenue run on October 25, full time service begins in May 1999


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