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Denver and Rio Grande Railroad

Appleby, England...
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Denver and Rio Grande Railroad

My great grandfather was an engineer on the D&RGRR between 1887 and 1915. I am visiting Colorado between 23rd September and 28th September. Can you suggest a route to take in surviving bits of the D&RGRR?

Park City, Utah
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1. Re: Denver and Rio Grande Railroad

I'm not an expert on this but have a few thoughts. From what I know, the current line used by Amtrak from Denver to Salt Lake City uses much or all of the main line for the Denver and Rio Grande. It departs Denver heading into the mountains and through the Moffat Tunnel under the Continental Divide to Winter Park and on to follow the Colorado River Valley all the way through Glenwood Canyon and continuing to Grand Junction. From there it tracks through the desert, turning north at Green River to Price/Helper and on up and over Soldier Summit, down to the Salt Lake Valley. Amtrak runs that route daily. You could go all the way to Salt Lake City, but a more reasonable route if you're visiting Colorado is to take it from Denver to Glenwood Springs - one of the most scenic routes in the U.S. by train. If you are really short timed, maybe just do Denver to Fraser through the Moffat Tunnel.

There were many other spurs of the Denver Rio Grande. The current Royal Gorge Railroad runs on one of those routes, a few hours south of Denver.

You may already have read this but the Wiki on the Denver and Rio Grande is quite informative and gives you good detail on where many of the lines are today.


Have fun.

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2. Re: Denver and Rio Grande Railroad

Do you know which part of the line your great grandfather ran? Are you arriving and departing Denver? by air or driving?

In addition to the Amtrak route: You can no longer ride the train through part of the Black Canyon, but you can take a boat tour in the Curecanti National Recreation Area, the Morrow Point boat tour, and you can see some of the remaining track at Cimarron, but the train cars have been removed for restoration at this time. The Curecanti Needle on one of their logos is reachable by hiking in the Curecanti National Rec. area. There's no passenger service between Grand Junction and Montrose any longer, but the old station is a museum in Montrose and you can visit the rail museum in Ridgway.


www.nps.gov/cure/planyourvisit/hiking.htm (look at the Curecanti Creek hike for reaching the Needle)


"Today, the Walsenburg-Alamosa-Antonito line survives as the standard gauge San Luis and Rio Grande Railroad, with passenger excursion trains service provided by the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad. Two narrow gauge segments survive as steam railroads, the Antonito-Chama line as the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad and Durango-Silverton as the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad."(wiki) http://www.cumbrestoltec.com/



With the time you have, you can see that you'll have to make some choices.

Do you arrive the 23rd and depart the 28th?

If so, visit the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden on the 23rd. You could take the Amtrak ride to Grand Junction on the 24th (the old station is standing but not open, located south of the current station...I sure wish someone could come up with the money to renovate it and turn it into a museum or something), rent a car to drive to Montrose. Drive out to see the Curecanti exhibit, then on the 25th, see the Montrose station, plus the Ridgway Rail Museum then through Ouray to an afternoon train from Silverton to Durango, with a late bus to return you to Silverton. Spend the night in Silverton, as the return trip to Ouray is not one you want to make at night when you're tired. On the 26th, drive back to Grand Junction. (If you could get a very early start you could make the train departure at 10:23) Take the train back to Denver.

You could ride Amtrak to Glenwood Springs and back the next day, then drive to Canon City to take the Royal Gorge route. (not a steam train now, though) Or drive to Alamosa to take one of the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad trips...looks like you might be able to connect from there to the Cumbres Toltec, too, but you'd have to work out the timing to see if you have time to do both.

If you could find a car rental deal that didn't charge an exorbitant surcharge for renting in Grand Junction and dropping off in Denver, that would open up some more options. You could also fly to Durango to ride the Durango-Silverton and the Cumbres Toltec.

Edited: 24 July 2013, 14:24
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3. Re: Denver and Rio Grande Railroad

You have been given good info by two previous posters. Since my Great Grandfather, Grandfather, and several Great Uncles all worked for D&RGW RR, IAH e several books on the railroad's history. If you wanted to retrace the route, the most intact portion of the line would be the current Denver to Salt Lake City portion that is now the line of the California Zephyr.

Wonder if your ancestor might have been on the narrow gauge portion?

Hope you get to relive some portion of your family railroad history. I highly recommend the Colorado Railroad Museum. They have an engine there that my Grandfather was an engineer on.

Appleby, England...
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4. Re: Denver and Rio Grande Railroad

Thank you for these very helpful responses. I am looking forward to the visit. My ancestor appears to have started his life on the D&RGRR in the Pueblo area, where his two youngest children were born, but my grandmother spoke of growing up in Chama NM. I visited Chama a couple of years ago, but it was in November, when the Cumbres and Toltec Railway was not running. I shall travel that route this year, and as many other surviving bits as possible. The California Zephyr (or part of the route) may be difficult to fit in, so I shall concentrate on heritage routes, some of which (including C&T) my great grandfather would have worked.

Thank you all again.


5. Re: Denver and Rio Grande Railroad

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