The Denver and Rio Grande Western 1870–1996


Map Code: Ax02048

A heritage locomotive now plying the Denver and Rio Grande commemorates its builders ‘who went everywhere the hard way’. Its spectacular route attracts tourist wishing to view, Royal Gorge, the ‘Grand Canyon of the Arkansas River’, its dizzying grades in the Rockies and the 6.2-mile (9.9-km) Moffat Tunnel (1928). Founded by William J. Palmer, a former Union General in the Civil War, the initial track was laid south from Denver. Through construction and acquisition it had developed the largest narrow-gauge railway system in the United States by 1883, stretching to Utah and New Mexico. It attained peak network in 1917, with c. 6,000 miles (9,600 km) of track. After World War II, it retained commercial viability through its ‘fast-freight’ system of haulage, and what would become the last private intercity train in the country, the California Zephyr. It would be sold to, and merged with the Union Pacific Railroad in 1996.

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