In 1887, the railroads arrived in Glenwood | PostIndependent.com
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In 1887, the railroads arrived in Glenwood

Willa Soncarty

The Roaring Fork Valley’s coal fields sparked a war of expansion between two railroads: the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad and the Colorado Midland Railway. In 1886 the Colorado Midland, in an effort to capitalize upon the area’s undeveloped economic wealth, proposed building a line to Aspen. The Denver and Rio Grande, knowing that its economic survival depended upon the profits generated by mining, could not pass on building a line to Aspen. The race to the Roaring Fork Valley was on.The Denver and Rio Grande chose to expand its line from Red Cliff, westward through Glenwood Canyon, to Glenwood Springs. Throughout the summer of 1887 crews cut grade and laid the narrow-gauge track. On Oct. 5, 1887, townspeople turned out in droves to watch crews drive the last spike connecting the rails.The Denver and Rio Grande’s first train arrived in Glenwood Springs that same day. A celebration of fireworks, speeches and banquets hailed the railroad’s arrival.The track crews, however, could not rest. They pushed the D&RG’s lines up the Roaring Fork Valley to Aspen, completing the work Oct. 27, 1887. From Leadville and down the Frying Pan and Roaring Fork rivers, the tracks of the Colorado Midland Railway reached Glenwood Springs Dec. 9, 1887. The social changes brought by the railroads were dramatic. Stage coach lines became obsolete almost overnight. The telegraph lines that came with the railroads provided faster communication to the rest of the country. Competition between companies lowered freight and passenger fares and brought more goods to consumers.In the end, the Denver and Rio Grande outlasted the Colorado Midland. However, their race for supremacy forever transformed the community. “Frontier Diary” is provided to the Post Independent by the Frontier Historical Society and Museum, 1001 Colorado Ave., Glenwood Springs. Winter hours are 1-4 p.m. Mondays, and Thursdays through Saturdays.”Frontier Diary” is provided to the Post Independent by the Frontier Historical Society and Museum, 1001 Colorado Ave., Glenwood Springs. Winter hours are 1-4 p.m. Mondays, and Thursdays through Saturdays.


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