THE UPPER ARKANSAS MEETS THE NEXT RAILROAD BOOM

By Forrest Whitman Colorado folks, especially here in the Upper Arkansas Valley, used to be called “Colorado nice.” I still hear that sometimes, but not often. There are more of us here and that may result in less “nice” and more “grumpies.” Population booms lead to some positives and some negatives, but there’s no argument …

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Leadville’s Light Rail

By Vince Matthews

One hundred and twenty-five years ago, Leadville was Colorado’s second most populous city and was being touted to become the State’s Capital. Indeed, the ridge on the north end of town is called Capitol Hill, and one of the old scenery flies in the Tabor Opera House depicts Colorado’s future Capitol as residing there. Great wealth was being accumulated by folks such as Guggenheim, Tabor, Routt, Chaffee and others. And they had a light rail bringing folks to and from the terminal to downtown. Denver finally caught up this April with the opening of its light rail from DIA to downtown!

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Colorado Rail Facts

The original Del Norte rail depot was a wooden structure built in 1881 to service the freight being generated in the Summitville mining district. It was replaced in 1911 by the depot shown above which was used until 1970 when it was taken over for town government offices. Photo by Mike Rosso

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Writers on the Range – Riding the rails – upscale

by Betsy Kepes

“You been ridin’ the rails?” The man had an old green duffel bag slung over his shoulder.

I could tell he’d checked us out as we stood on the lush lawn by the courthouse in Missoula, Montana. On my back I wore a faded red pack, and across my front I’d strapped my 5-month-old son. Seven-year-old Lee wore his own backpack, and my husband, Tom, leaned over from the weight of the huge load he carried.

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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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New Railroad to Colorado Central Country

(It’s Probably Coming To Leadville)

by Forrest Whitman

Every time I stroll along the out-of-service Union Pacific (U.P.) tracks near Cleora I get nostalgic for passenger trains. Why can’t I board a train in Salida? I know my black lab Gus and his buddy Bodie would hate to have trains honking along their favorite stretch of track and Bodie might just chase trains. But we could leave the dogs home and board in Leadville. That’s not a fantasy. Your Colorado rail authority is about ready to decide on a rail route through the Rocky Mountains. Mainly that’s to take the pressure off I-70, but it will serve Colorado Central Country, too. I’m predicting that a decade from now we’ll be able to board a “medium high-speed” electric MagLev train. That passenger train will whisk folks from Golden to the ski resorts, Leadville, and Eagle County Airport.

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Colorado Rail Facts – May 2009

The Sargents Water Tank still stands in the village of Sargents (originally known as Marshalltown) on the east side of Monarch Pass.

Built in 1937 to replace a smaller tank, the tank served the D&RGRR narrow-gauge line running up Marshall Pass. Originally there were tanks located every few miles along the tracks but the Sargents tank is one of the few remaining.

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Colorado Rail Facts

The Denver and Rio Grande Depot in Florence, CO was built in 1926 but was abandoned 50 years ago. In the 1970s it was acquired by the city of Florence from the Rio Grande Railroad Company. In 1979 the city began leasing the facility to the Florence Senior Citizen Council on Aging who have since used it as a senior community center.

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