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Denver
Castle Rock
Palmer Lake
Colorado Springs
Pueblo
Portland
Florence
Canon City
Royal Gorge
Parkdale
Texas Creek


Up
Royal Gorge
Moffat Route
Tennessee Pass
Marshall Pass
La Veta Pass
San Juan Area
San Luis Branch
Santa Fe Branch
Utah


 

 

 

Royal Gorge Route
    
Denver to Salida

   

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Vicinity Map

 

The Royal Gorge Route includes the railroad tracks that run from Denver south to Pueblo, then from Pueblo west to Salida. Along the southern leg of the route, the tracks follow the base of the Rocky Mountain range along the edge of the great plains to the east. Here the Rockies rise out of the plains as high as 14,000 feet. About 32 miles south of Denver the line passes Castle Rock, a huge salmon colored rock outcrop

From Castle Rock the tracks continue south to Colorado Springs. When General Palmer first started his railroad in 1871, the section from Denver to Colorado Springs was the first track he built. He helped found Colorado Springs and built a railroad to it. The town became a well known summer resort and gateway to other attractions like Pike's Peak and Cripple Creek. At the time he had dreams of continuing the railroad to Mexico. 

From Colorado Springs the railroad continued south to reach Pueblo in 1872. In 1881 General Palmer helped found the Colorado Coal and Iron steel works and the City has grown ever since. Coal from the fields around Florence was hauled to the steel mill and fired the massive furnaces. 

Originally the D&RG tracks continued south from Pueblo towards Trinidad. However, history would change Palmer's initial plan. A dispute with the AT&SF railroad denied him access to Trinidad and forced him to build west through the Royal Gorge, a great gash through the Rockies that was cut by the Arkansas River. The route follows the river through the gorge to Salida, where it eventually could continue in any of four compass directions.

 

THE JOINT LINE

During World War I the USRA operated the railroads and it created the Joint line between Denver and Pueblo in order to reduce congestion. After the war the tracks were owned and operated jointly by the D&RGW and the AT&SF. A double track main line had southbound traffic on the west side and northbound on the east side. At one time the Colorado Southern and the Missouri Pacific also ran on the line. 

In the 1950's and 1960's the trains were dispatched on the Joint Line using train orders. Once the train was on its way, it was controlled using an Automatic Block Signal system. Centralized Traffic Control (CTC) was installed in 1974. The Rio Grande dispatched the southbound trains and the AT&SF did the north. Crews were qualified on both railroads operating rules.

 

castle rock view row house pc.jpg (99171 bytes)
Castle Rock c1900

 

royal gorge ledge pc1.jpg (38936 bytes)
Royal Gorge c1920

 

pueblo cfi steel plant trestle pc.jpg (57824 bytes)
Steel Mill at Pueblo c1920

 

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