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Monarch Branch
Poncha Springs
Mears Junction
Marshall Pass
Crested Butte
Lake City
Black Canyon
Grand Junction






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Monarch Branch

This branch railroad line of the Denver and Rio Grande traveled northwesterly into the high mountain valley between Ouray Peak and Mt. Shavano.  

The railroad climbs a steep 4.5% grade approaching the Monarch mining area.


Poncha Junction, CO
Elevation  7,311 feet.
Denver  220.3 miles.

Poncha Junction is where the track branched and started for the mines at Monarch. 


Maysville, CO
Denver 224.6  miles.

In its heyday this town was better known as Crazy Camp. Maysville (or Marysville) were located near each other at first. A mill was built at Maysville to handle ore from Crazy Camp. Eventually Maysville became the town proper.

In 1879 Crazy Camp (and/or Maysville) was the fastest growing site in the district. Consideration was given to give the town the county seat. In the first few months a bank, lumber yard, hotels, cabins and other businesses were established. Maysville was an important travel junction in addition to being a mining center. The toll road over Monarch Pass and other roads began here. Much of the population was just stopping in town on its way to somewhere else. 

Mining activities ended around Maysville following the market crash of 1893. The town quickly faded and little is left today.


Monarch, CO
Elevation 10,028 feet.
Denver  236.5 miles.

Nicolas Creed, an unknown prospector at the time, first struck paydirt around Monarch in 1878. The area quickly grew and a town site was platted in 1880. At first they called the town Chaffee City after a respected banker and soon to be state senator. In 1884 the name was changed to Monarch. At this time there were over 100 homes, 3 hotels and many businesses. 

The Madonna mine was the first big operation at Monarch. At its peak 30 carloads of ore were shipped each day. Other mines successful mines sprouted up around the Madonna. Silver, lead and iron were the main metals found in the region. 

In 1893 the silver panic came to Monarch and basically killed the town. Most residents left town and those that remained proceeded to tear down and burn the abandoned structures for firewood. More buildings were torn down to make way for the new highway over Monarch Pass. Still more of the town was lost to snow slides over the years.

Chicago Fuel and Iron operated a limestone quarry in the area and shipped to the mills in Puebleo. The quarry shut down eventually.


Today there are not too many local residents at Monarch. However, quarry operations are again running in the valley. In the 1990s the railroad line was abandoned and today trucks haul the booty out of the valley.



Monarch Pass

Today the asphalt highway 50 travels over Monarch Pass and into Gunnison country instead of using Marshall Pass like the railroad did. At 11,312 feet Monarch is one of the highest passes in Colorado. There is a ski resort here at the top of the mountains with various resort accommodations.



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