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Dallas Divide
Vance Jct.
Trout Lake
Lizard Head



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telluride view from vance junction tlh P5240026.jpg (60871 bytes)
View from Vance Jct.
 to Telluride 2000

vance junction depot 1948 pc.jpg (70017 bytes)
Vance Junction 1948


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Vance Junction
Elevation 8116 feet.
RGS Mile Post 37.8

Here is wonderful valley spot amongst the massive mountains surrounding the San Miguel River valley near Telluride.  Vance Junction was located on the banks of the South Fork of the San Miguel River. This site consisted of a nicely made Section House surrounded by parts of used up railroad car bodies. It appears the car bodies were put there in the boom days, with full intention of improving the place in the near future. However, the future never came to Vance Junction, and therefore it never did get much improving. 

Whatever the reasons, any railroad buff has to agree that this is a great little spot, and marvel at the quaint appearance of the place. In fact, Col. Jim Vance built himself a cabin in the area he liked it so well. Of course, eventually the place was named after him.

The Rio Grande Southern (RGS) railroad was constructed into Vance Junction in 1890. A branch line that goes east to Telluride starts at the junction. The RGS main line continues south to Ophir, while the tracks to Telluride switched back to the north and climbed up a mesa heading back to the main San Miguel River valley. 



There were two passing sidings at Vance Junction. A separate spur track went to coaling facilities. 

Vance Junction rail yard c1900



The Section House was the most prominent structure at the Junction. This building was also the agents residence. It was a wood frame structure and is a simple version of the architecture you would find on the Denver and Rio Grande.  



Most colorful award goes to the car body Depot. This was more like a bus shelter than a Depot. But, it had its purpose in its day. The structure was made out of what is left of RGS Coach number 254 placed on wooden stilts. At first some of the Coach windows were boarded over for a more permanent look. But, after over 50 years of service, the thing eventually became just a hollow shell where a passenger could step out of the rain if they had to. Vance Junction's service as an official Depot was discontinued in 1927.

The Coach Depot was originally D&RG car number 263 and was sold to the RGS in 1890. Under RGS service the coach was numbered 254 and painted the light maintenance of way gray color. After the coach was wrecked in Porter, CO, what was left was hauled to Vance Junction and became the new Depot and Telegraph Office.

A big new fancy Depot was planned for Vance Junction at one time. In fact the railroad had plans to change the name to Illium with the new Depot. But, Cinderella never got to the ball and the silver panic of 1893 put any new construction for the site on permanent hold.



Vance Junction may have been small but it had a good sized coal storage structure due to its location along the line. The coal was needed here to fuel helpers on the way to Lizard Head and for the local traffic back and forth to Telluride. The Tipple was a Burnett-Clifton model similar to the one at Rico. It had an elevated track in the rear and eight loading chutes in front. 


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