Thursday, July 24, 2008


This is my second post on the Moffat Train Route over Rollins Pass early in the 20th century.
As you travel up the road if you have the map you can tell where the main route and the by-pass road separate. Or if you run out of cinders on the side of the road you'll know your on the by-pass.
The by-pass road once again joins the old road bed for the railroad and there along the side of the road are actual 100 year old railroad ties.

You come around the corner and there is the Rifle Sight Notch Trestle. . The gully below actually contains the remains of the tunnel (Loop Tunnel) that went under the trestle. It caved in many years ago.

Look closely on the left hillside in the photo below and there are several telegraph poles left standing. In winter blizzards when snow was almost as high as the crossarms, men from stranded trains felt their way along these wires to shelter. Once when a train was stalled in a snowdrift, George Barnes, the conductor, struggled to a nearby telegraph pole, hooked up his telegraph instrument and reported the train's plight. The trainmen abandoned the train and walked to Corona in 50-mile-an-hour winds at 20 below zero.

During the winter months (Sept-May) nearly every train had to be preceded by a rotary snowplow and due to lack of adhesion and icy tracks, up to five large Mallets were used to pull a train. Other dangers were: trains that had to stop would suddenly freeze to the rails, brake failures and resulting runaway trains.

Current top photo is looking south down the hill and old photo is looking north up the same stretch of railbed.

In winter, snow on Rollins Pass drifted 20 to 30 feet deep, necessitating an extensive snowshed to cover the main line, the wye and the passing track. Below is the remains of this showshed. The elevation is 11,600 ft. There were 13 snowsheds in all ranging in length from 19 ft. to 400 ft. Despite the snow sheds, snow would drift inbetween the wood planking and makes the tracks impassable. Stopping the train inside the tunnel was dangerous as passengers were liable to suffocate from smoke inhalation.

The two photo's below are the foundation of the once beautiful restaurant-hotel built in 1913. You can also see the deeply-anchored cable supports used to keep the roof from blowing off. Most of the dismantling of salvageable structures on the Hill was done in 1936

Corona Station and Hotel
Usually guests would just dine but a few would stay overnight. There were bedrooms, a common room with a fireplace and a large vista room with big windows. The hotel was completely built of stone and cost $24,000 to build.

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Ms.Daisy said...

I love history so this was very interesting to me. I can just see the travelers using the cables to find their way through the deep snow! Thanks for the journey "back in time."

Threeundertwo said...

This is fascinating. It must have been pretty scary, frankly, to travel like that in the winter.

Wonderful pictures, I loved spending time looking at them.

Elizabeth said...

I love all the info you share w/ your photos! My dad is a huge train buff & I sent him the link to this post & the first.

Gayla said...

How exciting to read about Moffat's route. My great grandfather Franks went west to work on Moffat's pass or Moffat's Tunnel. I am now not sure which it was???? But it had to do with the railway there. To see pictures was wonderful.

iPost said...

I love history like this. My great-great uncle was an engineer in West Virginia. My great-grandfather was a coal man after an injury to his eye caused him to give up being an engineer. Very cool!

Jewelgirl said...

What terrific old photos you have
blended with new! Great story!