Denver & Rio Grande RR 1903 article
-> My Collection, Also found at the Internet Archive Site. Link to article.
Last updated: 8 October, 2021 11:23


The Cripple Creek Times
New Year Edition 1903
(pages 41-44)

I added images from my collection (framed in black), and procured the coloring of the images, source article had two pics used.
clipart One of the chief causes of its remarkable rise is that it has followed closely upon the heels of the prospector and the irrigator. clipart

The causes of the remarkable rise of the Denver & Rio Grande railway, and its auxiliaries, fittingly termed the "Scenic Railway of the World," are several and distinctive.

Portrait of J. A. Edson, General Manager of D. & R. G. R.R.

It has been said that the chiefest cause is the enterprise which the management have exhibited in and out of season. This unceasing enterprise began with the road's very inception and has been unbroken to the present time.

A Yard Leading to a Tunnel Along the Denver & Rio Grande Railways at Tennessee Pass
A Yard Leading to a Tunnel at Tennessee Pass
Along the Denver & Rio Grande Railway

One of the phases of this enterprise has been that the construction of the road has followed the "color." The rails have pressed upon the heels of the prospector, so closely have they followed. Whenever and wherever a new mining camp sprang up, there could be found over night the emissaries of the Denver & Rio Grande ready to prepare the way for the extension of the great system.

Thus it is that the road was one of the first to enter all of the great mining camps of the state, and it has in every other way kept pace with the demand. Indeed it has been one of the chief factors in the marvelous development of this state.

It is a question whether the state has done most for the Denver & Rio Grande or whether the Denver & Rio Grande has done most for the state. The wonderful resources, varied and as limitless as they are, have made possible the creation of such a great system of railway lines, but in turn the road has made possible the development of those natural resources.

The Denver & Rio Grande, with its network of railroads reaching all of the principal points of Colorado, New Mexico and Utah, has made expansion possible, and the policy of fair play and enterprise has given all an equal show, so that the thousands have been able to do the best for all concerned.

The life of the Denver & Rio Grande has been only thirty years, and it seems almost incredible that in so short a time so many almost insuperable obstacles should have been surmounted.

The men who started and developed the road had to contend with the inexorable laws of nature, which, of the three chief obstacles in the way of man, are accounted the most insuperable. The doubts in the minds of men were swept aside like the dewy cobwebs of the morning. Brain and brawn were necessary to do it, and there was ample of both.

The first track was built in 1872—thirty years ago. But what a pigmy compared with the great factor in continental traffic to-day! Up to 1881 it was wholly narrow gauge, and those who were here at the time thought that it was truly wonderful that even that was actually constructed.

In so early a day the doubts that had been cast upon the future of the country by the pessimistic reports of Major Stephen Long and other "wise men" of the East who had been sent out here to look the country over and report, had not entirely withered and perished.

The belief created by these nearsighted men that here was a "Great American Desert" still lingered to deter those who were longsighted and could look into the future unblinded by eyes afflicted with the rheum of ignorance and false report.

As far back as 1872 could be called pioneer times. Not so many years had elapsed when a horde of disgusted and disgruntled men had journeyed back from the "Pike's peak gold diggings" with tales of desolation and starvation.

Central Tunnel, Canon of the Grand River, D. & R. G. R.R.
Central Tunnel, Canon of the Grand River

Thus the men who put their money in what many termed the "chimerical scheme" to track the Rockies, or to do the impossible, were believed to be afflicted with dementia. But, like the thoughtful men who pinned their faith to the first locomotive, in spite of the jeers of the "know-alls" and the fogies, these men, the pioneer builders of the Denver & Rio Grande, said nothing, but dug on.

The original intention was to build a road from Denver to El Paso, to the Rio Grande river, from which the name Denver & Rio Grande was derived. And the road did get as far as Espanola in that direction.

In 1881 the demands of business required that the road should be broad gauge, and the third rail was laid from Denver to Pueblo. In 1891 the entire road was made standard gauge, and at once became an important factor in continental business.

The history of the road from the beginning has been one of extension and expansion. The demands of the service have been met with a foresight and a contempt for expense characteristic of the enterprising management.

The Royal Gorge, on D. & R. G. R.R. -> with the Hanging Bridge
Hanging Bridge in the Royal Gorge

In 1879 and 1880 the Leadville excitement directed the efforts of the management toward the Cloud City. This caused the construction of the line westward, through the Royal Gorge, one of the marvels of the Rockies, and through the valley of the Arkansas up, away up, to Leadville.

Again genius and work had accomplished the impossible, and the croakers were out of business for all time. Now when some one says that the Denver & Rio Grande is about to do something, there is eloquent silence, for the "copper-beads" have learned that what is promised from this source, no matter what it is, is redeemed.

If the management of the road were to announce that it was about to construct a line to Mars the olden time doubters would be ashamed to shake their heads.

So when it was announced in 1881 that a line would be built over the magnificent and impossible Marshall pass to Gunnison, all held their breath and waited. They were rewarded, for the work was completed with great dispatch. This line not only added to the world-wide fame of the road as the scenic line, but opened up a fabulously rich territory and made possible a reciprocity scheme that added to the earning capacity of the road and put millions into the pockets of the people of the country.

A very ambitious undertaking was begun in 1882 and completed in 1883, when the road was extended to Grand Junction on the western slope and finally to Salt Lake City, Utah, by connection with the Rio Grande Western railway. This piece of enterprise has added millions to the wealth of the state.

The most fertile agricultural section in the United States was opened up and the great valleys in that section soon began to blossom like a garden. Taking into consideration the fruits, the vegetables, the grain and the sugar beets, it is not any longer disputed that the development in this direction will be of more lasting benefit to the state than even the mining discoveries and increase made possible by the tapping of those sections.

That assertion is putting it strong, but the rapid strides in agriculture along the line of the road within the past ten years leave no doubt that the future will bear it out in every detail.

The Denver & Rio Grande has not only followed closely on the heels of the prospector, but it has been a good comrade to the man who knows how to irrigate and to get the most out of the wonderfully rich soil of the state.

The line to Creede, one of the richest mining camps in the state, was completed in 1889, and the management could then boast that all of the chief points of the state, whether on account of mining, or agriculture, or health- giving resorts and hunting territories, were reached by it in the most advantageous manner.

Denver & Rio Grande 2-8-0 Number 281 Switching Cars at the Silver Lake Mill in 1903
Silver Lake Mill in 1903

Thus at length in the beginnings of the twentieth century the Denver & Rio Grande owners and managers can look with pride upon one of the most stupendous achievements of the time. The millions that have been spent have not been thrown to the god of war nor to enable men to rise at the expense of another man, or set of men. Those millions have added to the sum of happiness, have added to the beauty and artistic development of the world, and have given a joy to countless thousands in the privileges or better life and higher aims.

Colorado was yet a territory when this magnificent system, now extending to almost every mining camp and agricultural center of Colorado, was projected. Smelters, factories and the busy hum of industry, embracing all of the occupations of modern life, have sprung into existence along its lines as the outcome of the energy and enterprise of the company.

While giving close attention to local needs, the Denver & Rio Grande has not been unmindful of continental business which, with its excellent connections, enables it to compete with the best. It is now possible to reach San Francisco from Denver, and vice versa, without change of cars, and at the same time to secure the most satisfactory views of the grandest scenery in the world.

The overland train is a model in every respect. From the engine to the last first-class coach, everything is bright, new and comfortable, and of the most elegant style of workmanship and finish. A person may travel the long journey to the Golden Gate and be equally as comfortable as if he were sitting at home in his most luxurious chair.

The enterprise and care of the management for its patrons have absolutely obliterated the word fatigue from travel. And this obtains even in the trips throughout the state. A passenger need not fear to take a Denver & Rio Grande train, even if it has no Pullman cars on it (but most of them do), because the chair cars provided by the company are as comfortable and elegant as the ordinary Pullman coach. It resembles the Pullman coach in appointments, except that it has none of the objections of the Pullman as a day coach. Of course, when night over-takes the traveler he will always find a sleeping car ready for him to "turn in."

All legitimate industries along the line of the Denver & Rio Grande are the especial care of the road, and its management encourages the establishment of new ones with especial attention and inducements. It will extend its tracks into new fields, and the mere matter of whether the branch or spur will pay this month or next year does not enter into the question. The road is a builder, and it looks to the future for the rewards that do not seem to be at hand. To such tender enterprises it gives increased facilities and offers every encouragement possible.

The abundant natural resources of the state have always been systematically advertised to the world by the road. More people throughout the nation have received their first reliable and definite information from this herald of the good things in store than from any other agency.

To-day a single request on a postal card to the passenger department for the information upon any feature of Colorado resources will promptly bring to the inquirer interesting literature upon the subject.

The scenic attractions of Colorado along the lines of the Denver & Rio Grande have brought thousands of people hither from all parts of the world. Every variety of scenery can be found in Colorado. Monotony is an unknown quantity, beauty is present everywhere, and grandeur greets the reverent eyes of all who traverse the fastnesses of her Rocky Mountains, where, the everlasting hills tower, snow-crowned, as if to pierce the bright and stainless blue of the sun-illumined sky.

The many hot and cold mineral springs located on the line of this railroad, together with the Colorado climate, have attracted the attention of health and pleasure seekers throughout the world.

The Denver & Rio Grande, in connection with the Rio Grande Western, between Denver and Ogden, is the most desirable route "over the mountains" in one of the principal transcontinental lines between the two oceans.

Nowhere in a trip across the continent is the journey enhanced with such marvelous and beautiful scenery, and to view the "sight places" of Colorado one needs but to travel over the Denver & Rio Grande railroad.


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