Pueblo lies on a high plain at the confluence of the Arkansas River and Fountain Creek. The terrain is very mildly sloping to the east.
Sometimes called the Pittsburg of the west, Pueblo is a steel town and proud of it.
When the D&RG was first forming the population of Pueblo approved a $150,000 bond to help with railroad construction. Canyon City also approved a $50,000 bond for construction to their site. But, the General decided to build to Pueblo first. This move may have been to facilitate the line over La Veta Pass and into the San Luis Valley. These were the earliest days of the railroad and they were just starting out. At the time, General Palmer wanted to build a railroad south to Santa Fe, NM and eventually on to Mexico. Pueblo was directly on the path to the south. So, construction began and the first train came to Pueblo in 1872.
The Arkansas River overflowed its banks and most of the railroad in 1921. Water at the Union Depot was 10 feet deep. Over 400 rail cars were destroyed. Some cars were swept away only to found later miles downstream smashed into a building.
THE RAIL YARD
A quick look at the rail yard map shows the D&RG had extensive facilities at Pueblo. Many of the main tracks are shared with the Missouri Pacific Railroad. They jointly operate on the tracks as did the Colorado & Southern and the Santa Fe. Large blocks or even whole trains were switched between the four rail lines operating in Pueblo. Long strings of iron ore, coal, limestone and scrap cars were always shuffling to the CF&I mills.
THE UNION DEPOT
Union Depot front c1890
Pueblo had a large depot that served many railroads in union. Constructed in 1889, the building has a stone exterior with a comfortable, old world architecture. The structure provided service for passengers and the D&RG's division offices were located here until they were transfered to Denver in 1961.
COLORADO FUEL AND IRON (CF&I) STEEL MILL
One of the biggest industries in Colorado rotates around CF&I steel plant and all required to feed the mill. Iron ore and coal are needed in large quantities and the personnel and equipment needs are great. The mill is a little over 2 miles southeast from the Pueblo rail yard and was always a major part of the railroad's success.
In 1879 the railroad was beginning expansion and demand for steel rail was high in Colorado. This prompted General Palmer to construct a steel mill south of Pueblo at Minnequa under the name Colorado Coal and Iron Company. The company owned thousand of acres of coal bearing deposits throughout the region. By 1880 the company was using half the coal excavated in Colorado. In 1892 CC&I merged with the Colorado Fuel Company to form Colorado Fuel and Iron. This company became the states largest employer and dominated industry around the state for decades.
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