Thursday, July 17, 2008


Had a fascinating evening at the Library with a gentleman named Dave Naples who is part of "The Grand County Characters". A group of great people who are available for assorted functions and they portray some of the colorful character's of our area's history.
Dave does an excellent job of portraying David Moffat, the gentleman who was responsible for bringing the railroad across the Rockies at the turn of the century. This involved huge obstacles at the time. He invisioned the Tunnel that bares his name but didn't live long enough to see it built.
We have always wanted to explore the Rollins Pass /Corona Pass area where the train comes up over the highest point, so we headed out a few days ago to make the journey.
I'm going to spread this post out over a couple of days so I can get it all in. It was a great day.

David Moffat began the Moffat Route, originally named the Denver, Northwestern and Pacific (DNW&P), in 1902 with the intent to build a line directly west out of Denver that connected with Salt Lake City and then the west coast. The tracks move west out of the plains of Denver and
immediately begin the long climb over the continental divide of the Rockies by traversing the Front Range rock escarpments. Along this section, the rails wind through the foothills and into the mountains by going through 27 different tunnels cut into the rocks along the way.
This was a fantastic scenic route and an engineering marvel. Unfortunately, it was also a nightmare in winter months, which lasted from October to May. Keeping the tracks clear of snow was a full time task most of the winter and this expense often ate up all other profits made by the railroad

The Tunnel Section is on the East side of the Front Range which we plan to explore next week.

Our trip started on the west side near the exit of the present day Moffatt Rail Tunnel. A dirt road marked "Rollins Pass" takes off to the east from Hwy 40 just before you enter Winter Park.

For the most part the dirt road follows the old rail bed route. There is a short distance that diverts from the old rail bed but you can tell because the side of the road is no longer covered in old cinders. There are still lumps of coal along sections of the road.
Cinder field along side of road

The original railroad uphill from this point is impassable. The bypass road rejoins the railroad grade about 2 miles from here. At this point, about 150 feet above the curve, you will note the remains of two old cabins, which were used by loggers when the Moffat Road was constructed. The structure pictured above is a logging "landing deck". This structure was built by loggers to aid them in loading logs on flatcars.

There are numbered markers that correlate to a booklet that is excellent. We had a hard time tracking one down but finally located it at Routt National Forest Office outside of Granby.

There were many beautiful little run-off streams and the wildflowers were incredible.

Next Thursday will show the 100 year old trestle, original telegraph poles and top of Corona Pass.


____Maggie said...

Very interesting stuff and I look forward to more scary tunnel pictures! :)

Granny Sue said...

Railroad history is fascinating, isn't it? Thanks for the history and the photos--they're excellent.

PAT said...

Judy, I am enjoying your posts so much! I'm learning new and interesting things!

Have a great rest of the week!

Dana Jones said...

I just love this kind of history lesson. What fun it must be for the kids too!

The Apron Queen said...

Your link on VTT didn't work last week or this week, but I googled you & found ya! I'll fix the link on Mr Linky for you.

When we went to the Grand Canyon, we rode on a vintage train. It was wonderful fun. Thanks for sharing.

For your daily dose of vintage goodness & a bit of silliness, stop by Confessions of an Apron Queen

Eleanor said...

What a very interesting post! I have learned a lot! I loved the rules for teachers at Grand Lake schools.Life sure was different then - a pail fo water and a coal scuttle! Have a good weekend. Love Eleanor

The Apron Queen said...

Can't wait til next Thurs. Thanks for sharing! :)