Buy the DVD

La Veta Pass
La Veta



Location Map...


la veta pass otr94.jpg (107161 bytes)
La Veta Pass c1890


Additional Images

Related Information

La Veta Pass, CO
Elevation  9,242 feet.
Denver  207 miles.

This high pass traverses between the Culebra and the Sangre De Cristo mountain range of south-central Colorado. Culebra is Spanish for "snake" and like the name implies, the mountains are winding and rugged. The area has always been difficult to explore and it remains that way today. Wildlife still flourishes with the likes of bears, mountain lions, bobcats, elk and deer.

The La Veta Pass Route of the D&RG railroad describes the track traveling from Pueblo to Alamosa. This is a very scenic journey and the railroad did its best to capitalize on the fact. Even the railroad's slogan "Scenic Line of the World" was coined to describe the magnificent sights along the way. This was the first high mountain pass the D&RG built over and they were not afraid to brag about its features. It was exclaimed around the world as an engineering marvel. 

Tracks were first laid on the pass in 1877. It was the General's intention to build west into the San Luis Valley and the San Juan mining districts beyond. So he put his builders to work on miles of cuts, fills and wooden trestles. The grade up the western slopes is well over 3 percent and that is getting fairly steep for the locomotives of the day.

veta pass c1880.gif (5203 bytes)
Veta Pass rail yard c1880

When the conversion to standard gauge track took place in 1899, the difficult section over the pass was relocated from "Veta Pass" to "La Veta" (now Fir) further south. The steep grades were lowered to 3 percent. Three new tunnels were constructed on the east side of the pass. These were labeled the lower, middle and upper tunnels. In 1929 the upper tunnel caught fire and caved in. Instead of trying to clear the tunnel the railroad cut through the tunnel roof along its length and "daylighted" the tunnel. 

The La Veta route tended to carry goods into and out of the San Luis and San Juan areas and was always of a more local nature. Other routes on the line relayed goods from one end to the other while the La Veta route served the regional area only. Due to the way the schedules would be worked out, the trains mainly traveled over the route at night. 

A stone depot was constructed at the summit and is still standing today.


la veta pass c1910.gif (8140 bytes)
La Veta Pass rail yard c1910




Blanca Main Street c1920

Blanca Depot c1920






Copyright 2005 Sandia Software All Rights Reserved