Alpine: The Town That Wouldn’t Die

A view of the Alpine railroad station, a combination frame depot, freight room and living quarters. A large group of men is pictured on the wooden plank depot platform with piles of bundled canvas sacks. Denver, South Park & Pacific freight cars are on the tracks, circa 1882. Courtesy of the Denver Public Library.

By Jan MacKell Collins

There is much to say about Colorado ghost towns that have found new life in more recent years. While some places have simply vanished, others have been regenerated in one form or another. One such place is Alpine, located about twelve miles from Nathrop on Highway 162.

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Colorado Then & Now: Chapter VI. Leadville & Vicinity

Several early pioneers camp below Mount Princeton and Mount Antero. Photo by Joseph Collier, circa 1880.

Note: The following is an excerpt from the book, Colorado Then & Now by Grant Collier and his grandfather Joseph Collier.

“This mountain was named after the miners, after D. C. Collier, one of the editors and proprietors of the Register, in consideration of his eminent success as a prospector. The view is from the Perue Fork of the Snake River, which runs down through the willows in the foreground. It is from the direct front, looking down through one of the beautiful, sunny, grassy, parks, which constantly recur, and which, in their season, are covered with gorgeous foliage so peculiar to the western slope of the continent.” – Joseph Collier on an image of Collier Mountain

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Day Tripping – Part 2

By Mike Rosso

In May 2015, we ran our first installment of the Day Tripping column which took us from Salida to Cañon City, over the Oak Creek grade to Westcliffe, down to Cotopaxi and back to Salida along U.S. Hwy. 50.

Earlier this past June, my traveling partner Dan Smith and I chose the opposite direction for our explorations. The original plan was to drive over Marshall Pass to Sargents, where we would hook up with U.S. Hwy. 50 and continue west, but rainstorms in the mountains the previous evening, combined with lingering snow caused us to nix that idea.

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Alpine Station

By Christopher Kolomitz

At more than 11,500 feet in elevation and reached via a modest four-wheel-drive road, a driving adventure to Alpine Station and the west portal of Alpine Tunnel makes a superb trip into Central Colorado’s high country.

The journey provides a fascinating glimpse into the history of one of the state’s most ambitious and short -lived railroads – the Denver South Park and Pacific. Construction on the line started in 1878, and in 1889 the original owners defaulted. Shortly after, history’s cruel ways intervened and the line never made it to the Pacific, only reaching the Gunnison area and Leadville via Boreas and Fremont passes.

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Letters to the Editor

Memories of the Alpine Tunnel

To the Editor:

To us, the Alpine Tunnel was always an illusionary magnet that drew our eyes and imagination to that lovely mountain. The story of the building and the courage, stamina and industry of its builders was the stuff of legends – an added attraction.

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The Denver, South Park & Pacific Railroad

By Virginia McConnell Simmons

Only a few ghostly vestiges of the Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad remind us today of challenges that once played a role in the daily life of Central Colorado. This legendary narrow-gauge line, sometimes called “The Damn Slow Pulling and Pretty Rough Riding,” battled blizzards, floods, rockslides, derailments, corporate competition, and, far from least, human courage and hardship. Trains ran summer and winter on rails that crossed the Continental Divide in three places, burrowing through Alpine Tunnel (11,523 el.) to Gunnison County, and topping Boreas Pass (11,482 el.) and Fremont Pass (11,318 el.) to the Blue River and Leadville.

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The Alpine Tunnel (and how to get there)

by Kenneth Jessen

In 1879, the Denver, South Park & Pacific railroad constructed a narrow gauge railroad from Denver up the South Platte Canyon, over Kenosha Pass and across South Park. It was a grand scheme to tap shipments to and from the mining areas, pick up agricultural products, and carry passengers on one of the most spectacular railroads ever constructed. It was also a race with the Denver & Rio Grande railroad to reach Gunnison. The Denver & Rio Grande wisely picked a rather conventional route over Marshall Pass, while the Denver, South Park & Pacific embarked on a daring scheme to drill a tunnel under the Continental Divide.

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