Valley RR History- Railroads
Glenwood Railroad Museum
Aspen Branch of Denver & Rio Grande Railroad:
The D&RG came from Leadville via Tennessee Pass, Glenwood Canyon to Glenwood Springs, then extended the length of the Roaring Fork Valley arriving in Aspen in November of 1887. The Aspen Branch was created primarily to service the silver boom in Aspen and helped build and well served the Roaring Fork Valley:
• transported miners, families and visitors to valley towns
including Aspen, Basalt, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, Redstone, Coal Basin and Marble
• helped build these very towns by bringing in building materials, passengers, supplies
• transported important personages, such as President Theodore Roosevelt
• hauled millions of tons of coal, used in the production of steel throughout the United States
• carried tons of silver ore for use in minting U. S. coins
• provided employment and income for valley families
• hauled out tons of strawberries, potatoes and other agricultural products
• carried marble blocks used in Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers, the Lincoln Memorial, the Colorado State Capitol, Colorado State Museum, and hundreds of other statues and buildings.
• hauled out iron ore mined from Snowmass Mtn. loaded at Woody Creek until 1986
Colorado Midland Railroad:
The Colorado Midland, originating in Colorado Springs, came from Leadville over the Continental Divide and down the Frying Pan river valley to enter the Roaring Fork Valley at Basalt, then proceeded south to Aspen arriving in February of 1888, just three months after the D&RG. In 1889, it completed the segment to Glenwood Springs and extended the length of the valley (State Highway 82 was built on much of the former Colorado Midland right-of-way). They competed with the D&RG and provided many of the same services. Unlike the D&RG, they had many difficulties keeping their high mountain passage from Leadville open in the winter. They declared bankruptcy in 1919.
Crystal River Railroad
The Crystal River Railroad was built by John Osgood to bring coal from Coal Basin above Redstone to the D&RG (Rio Grande) connection at Carbondale, the Crystal River standard gauge line was completed in 1898. The Coal Basin narrow gauge line was completed Nov. 1900. The coal was loaded onto 3’ gauge hoppers up in Coal Basin and brought down to Redstone, where it was “coked” and loaded into standard gauge cars. Trains of these cars were hauled to Carbondale for transfer to the Rio Grande.
Crystal River & San Juan
The Crystal River & San Juan was an extension of the Crystal River from Redstone, this standard gauge line extended to the marble mill in Marble completed in 1906. Finished marble products, such as stone for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, were transported through Redstone, to Carbondale. There it was handed over to the Rio Grande for distribution to the rest of the world.
Yule Marble Tramway
The Yule Marble Tramway was completed in 1910. Powered by overhead electric “trolley” wires, this steep, dangerous and interesting rail line brought stone down from the marble quarry above Marble to the mill at Marble. There it was cut, polished, finished and sent out over the rails of the Crystal River & San Juan.
Treasury Mountain Railway
Using a standard gauge Shay geared locomotive, this line was built to tap the treasures of another marble vein above Marble. It was completed in 1910. Due to the low quality of the stone, it was a short-lived venture.
South Canyon Coal railway
The South Canyon Coal railway used small electric (either a 20" or 30” gauge) mine locomotives (powered from overhead electric wires) were used to transport coal down the steep grade to a coal loado ut facility, next to the Colorado Midland Railway, west of Glenwood Springs. It operated from 1905-1918.
Seven railroads operated in this area, embracing the river valleys of the Colorado (nee Grand), Roaring Fork, Crystal and Frying Pan. A brief description of each is presented below.