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031 Colorado Denver Rio Grande Railroad

031 Colorado Denver Rio Grande Railroad

  • 5699

Denver and Rio Grande Railway

The mineral boom lasted for decades during the late 19th century. In the midst of all the mining activity, the Denver railway line was born. It gets its name from the fact that it set off from Denver and headed north through Platte Canyon ultimately terminating after Frisco and Climax in the tiny town of Leadville. The line was started in 1873 after the people of Arapaho County granted a $300,000 bond in order for railway development to begin.

Both companies provided service in and around the area, yet the story of these two cutting across Colorado is filled with competition, struggle, and mutual compromise. The town of Leadville was a Pivot point of sorts as a mining boom led to a race to lay track quick in that area. At that time, Rio Grande Western Railroad was a part of the railway industry mix, and they, as well as Denver, had a lot to gain by having providing service to Leadville. However, in an effort to prevent those companies from laying track through the town, Jay Gould, a leading American railroad developer and speculator, pressured both corporations to strike a deal calling it the Joint Operation Agreement of October 1, 1879.

Essentially it provided that both companies could use the track north and south leading to and from Leadville, yet Denver would lay track North, and Rio Grande Western would lay track south from the city. In the end, both companies would benefit by being able to use the track laid by the other company, and Gould would be the ultimate winner as a speculator with more westward development of the railroad.̢ This map highlights some of the early development and connections that these railway companies had to offer. A fascinating part of history that was integral at the time.

*image in picture appears brighter yellow than the actual print and original painting

All sizes are approximate. 


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