Railroad and its role in the growth of Grand County, Colorado

The Centennial state, Colorado entered the Union of America in 1876, one hundred years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which is why it is the Centennial State. The Colorado River, so named due to the color of the water as observed by the early Spanish explorers(Colour Red).

There was a massive explosion of population in Colorado due to the discovery of gold in the latter half of the 1800s. Fortune hunters flocked to Colorado from all over, seeking the yellow metal.

The state, which has prominently 3 topographic zones: plains, mountains, and plateaus. The Continental Divide bisects the state, north to south and there are more than 50 peaks above 14,000 feet. The actual reality on the ground was that the difficult routes that led into Colorado, hampered the growth kept the population in check.

Denver is the State Capitol at 5,280 feet, one mile above sea level. Colorado is noted for its waterways and is the only state in the U.S. from which all watercourses flow out of the state. Rivers that have their origins in Colorado include the North Platte, South Platte, Arkansas, Rio Grande, and Colorado with its headwaters in Grand County.

However, the railroad brought about welcome changes with easy access and travel into the Grand County. Construction on the railroad line from Denver to Grand County began in July 1902.

The project, called the Moffat road (officially the Denver, Northwestern & Pacific), was initially thought to be an. the impossible dream of one David H. Moffat, who devoted his life and his personal fortune building the tracks over the Continental Divide.

The rails pushed higher and higher up the mountains until they reached a station named Corona, meaning the crown of the continent. Corona was the highest point in the world with a standard gauge railroad and the journey from Denver in the winter was perilous at best.

Huge snowplows were required on either side of the Divide to keep the tracks clear.

The railroad reached Granby and Hot Sulphur Springs in 1905 and Kremmling in 1906 and played a significant role in building the population of Grand County.

Eventually, in the late 1920s, a tunnel was dug through the range, eliminating 22.84 miles of track, which kept the passengers on the trains from the breathtaking views and the adventure the journey over Rollins Pass provided.

In 1900 the total resident population of Grand County was only 741 but grew to 1,862 in 1910, which at present is over 15,000.

None can deny the role played by the railroad in the development and prosperity of Grand County, Colorado.

Steven Smith