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A D&RGW timeline

Sidebar by Central Staff

Transportation – November 1994 – Colorado Central Magazine

1880: The Denver & Rio Grande wins the Royal Gorge War with the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fé, and builds a narrow-gauge line west from Ca$on City up the Arkansas as far as Crane Park, near the summit of Tennessee Pass.

1881: The narrow-gauge line is extended over Tennessee Pass to Red Cliff.

1887: Via Glenwood Springs, the Tennessee Pass line reaches Grand Junction, where it connects with the other narrow-gauge line which runs from Salida over Marshall Pass to Gunnison and points west.

1890: The Tennessee Pass line is converted to standard gauge between Pueblo and Grand Junction. A tunnel is bored under Tennessee Pass, and the old narrow-gauge route, now a popular cross-country ski trail, is abandoned.

1964: Through passenger service on the Royal Gorge route is terminated. The D&RGW’s “Royal Gorge” now goes from Denver to Salida, where it turns around and returns to Denver.

1967: All passenger service is eliminated between Denver and Salida.

1971: The engine terminal in Salida is closed, so that through freights no longer stop to change crews.

1985: The Salida depot is torn down and the truss bridge across the Arkansas River is removed after the abandonment of the quarry line.

1988: Phil Anschutz, owner of the D&RGW, purchases the Southern Pacific, and begins to integrate the two systems.

1993: The first passenger train in years comes through the Royal Gorge line. Pulled by leased Amtrak locomotives, it consists entirely of private rail cars, in a chartered excursion from Pueblo to Sacramento.