MP 347.50 Allen Siding Length: 14250ft
The Glenwood Canyon begins here. This is one of the most spectacular canyons any railroad passes through. Unfortunately, the scenery has somewhat suffered by the placement of interstate I-70 in the canyon. This has not always been the case. In the old days, only the railroad passed through here.
Trains in the Glenwood Canyon are difficult to photograph. There is a paved trail on the I-70 side of the canyon but that is too low to allow picture taking. Stopping on I-70 is also not an alternative ?
In Glenwood Canyon, the “Domeliner” is said to have been invented. A monument which is now located at the Colorado Railroad museum reminds us of the day, when Cyrus Osborn, a technician of Electro Motive Division, was riding the cab of new FT marvelling at the scenery. He thought of ways to give passengers a view like this and drew sketches of the first domecar. Soon the domecar was a standard feature on American and European trains.
MP 349.90 Shoshone Tunnel 1 Length: 276ft
MP 350.90 Shoshone Tunnel 2 Length: 134ft
MP 350.50 Shoshone Siding Length: 3960ft
MP 355.00 Grizzly Siding Length: 5060ft
Close to this location a hermits home on the other side of the canyon is visible high up in the rock face. This small building is only visible from the train.
MP 359.00 Glenwood Tunnel Length: 1327ft
MP 360.10 Glenwood Springs Station, Junction Length: 10790ft
Once Glenwood Springs was an important railroad hotspot. From the west, the Rio Grande Junction Railway approached. This was a joint venture between the Rio Grande and the Colorado Midland. The reason for this cooperation lay in the fact that DeBeque canyon was considered to narrow for two railway lines. The Rio Grande Junction Railway was owned half by the Rio Grande and half by the Colorado Midland.
Both railroads had there own tracks out of Glenwood Springs to Aspen in the South (today only the Rio Grande rails are still there and extend as far as Wheeler).
The Midland continued via this line to Colorado Springs via the treacherous Hagerman Pass - another high altitude failure. Building a tunnel on the pass, a few hundred feet lower than the original crossing, did not help anymore and the Colorado Midland was torn up in 1918, this being one of the biggest railroad dispersals in history. (Only the dismantling of the Colorado & Southern would later be a bigger task for scrappers).
Also towards the south, the Crystal River & San Juan Railway lead to marble quarries about 30 miles south of Glenwood Springs. Further quarries and mines were situated 15 miles south of Glenwood – served by the Colorado Midland (notably the Sunshine Mine, Marion Mine and Spring Gulch Mine).
Finally, towards the east, the Rio Grande (now UP) leaves town on its way through Glenwood Canyon.
Glenwood Springs is a health resort, thanks to its sulphur springs. Among others, there is a large open air pool, where you can bathe in the healthy water and turn on whirl baths too.
Accommodations are slightly on the expensive side, a fact related to topography, as the next major town in the west is Grand Junction, which is about 90 miles away.
Teddy Roosevelt and the Hotel Colorado
Something very special is the Hotel Colorado. Its rooms have been kept the way they were and there are also to suites. Several ghost regarding this hotel are still in circulation - like the one about the deceased waiter who still uses the elevator and stops it at a certain floor where his room was once located. Another story tells of a lady who knew she did not have long to live. She spent the last months of her life in Glenwood Springs and lived in the Hotel Colorado. After her death, the room was due for renovation. When the wallpaper was on the walls everything seemed done. The next morning all the wallpaper lay on the floor. Several attempts to attach new wallpaper failed. Finally, a book of wallpaper samples was laid on the bed. The next morning a page was open. The old lady had "selected" her wallpaper and when this was glued on, it remained attached to the walls without the slightest problem.
One of the most renowned regular guests at the Hotel Colorado was President Theodore Roosevelt. He liked to go hunting for bears in the region. The story goes, that at one point a bear got the better of him and made him climb to safety onto a tree. After his rescue, employees of the Hotel Colorado made a little toy bear especially for him, calling it “Teddy Bear”. Now you know where the teddy bear got its name.
MP 368.10 Chacra Siding Length: 6940ft
This is where Glenwood Canyon ends and a wider valley begins. The surroundings start changing rapidly into desert-like scenery.
MP 372.70 Newcastle Siding Length: 6720ft
MP 379.50 Silt Siding Length: 5810ft
MP 386.60 Rifle Siding, Wye Length: 6160ft
MP 390.10 Lacy Siding Length: 7050ft
MP 399.10 Dos Siding Length: 5860ft
MP 404.00 Grand Valley Siding Length: 8060ft
Once a branchline called Union Spur departed here, leading to the Union Oil Company Shale plant about 4 miles away. The standard gauge line has since been abandoned.
MP 408.70 Una Siding Length: 6150ft
MP 416.60 De Beque Siding Length: 7670ft
DeBeque Canyon starts here. This is a very narrow gorge which was the reason for the joint venture between the Rio Grande and the Colorado Midland Railway.
Whilst the Interstate stays on the left side of the Canyon the railroad takes the right. From some exits you will have nice views onto the railroad.
MP 423.30 Akin Siding Length: 6280ft
MP 427.70 Tunnel Siding Length: 4660ft
MP 428.50 Beaver Tail Tunnel Length: 763ft
This is a short tunnel. Like all tunnels on the Rio Grande, it has a name rather than a number (like on the Moffat Road).
MP 432.60 Cameo Siding Length: 4390ft
This marks the end of DeBeque Canyon. The land starts flattening out and the wide Utah Desert begins. From now on, it's all sand and gravel.
MP 433.30 Public Service Yard
This is a siding for loading freight cars.
MP 437.00 Palisade Siding Length: 12260ft
MP 442.50 Clifton Siding Length: 5200ft
MP 445.00 Fruitvale
MP 447.00 East Yard
MP 448.70 10th Street
MP 450.00 Grand Junction Station, Wye, JCT, Yard
Grand Junction is one of the major yards on the line. It also was the start point of the Rio Grande Junction Rwy which was jointly built by the Colorado Midland and the Rio Grande Western (a puppet of the Denver & Rio Grande). From here on, both railroads took their separate routes to the west. Unfortunately, the Midland was never able to continue building its line. In 1908, when the Denver & Rio Grande officially merged the Rio Grande Western becoming the Denver & Rio Grande Western, the Midland's fate was sealed as it had lost its “independent” connection to the west.
In 1918, the Colorado Midland was dismantled. During the same year the Denver & Rio Grande Western took possession of the line between Grand Junction and Glenwood Springs and the station building in Grand Junction which had been constructed in 1905.
Due to clever management, the Rio Grande Junction Railway's assets were bought before the official bankruptcy of the Midland giving the Rio Grande a debt-free ride.
Grand Junction is also the departing point of the line to Montrose in the south. In Montrose the railroad connected with the Rio Grande Southern Railroad, well known for its “Galloping Geese” railbuses. After bankruptcy of the Rio Grande Southern, the tracks to Montrose were changed to Standard gauge.
MP 451.70 Durham Siding Length: 5080ft
Initial length 2680ft. Extended to its present length between 1935 and 1941.
MP 453.80 Racy Siding (abandoned) Length: 3450ft
The original name was Ute Siding. Later it was renamed to Racy Siding in 1926, not used after 1941 and removed in 1943.
MP 457.6 Roan Siding (abandoned) Length: 6050ft
Roan Siding was built in 1884 during the railroad's construction. It was renamed Rhone in 1920 and lengthened to 2120ft. The name Roan appeared again in 1927 and the siding was further extended to 4500ft. During World War II the length increased to 6050ft. In the late fifties it was cut back in size and soon after removed.
MP 460.50 Fruita Siding Length: 13360ft
The valley is still pretty wide here. The existence of several fruit orchards and plantations in this area is the reason for the name Fruita.
The siding was originally constructed as Fruit Vale in 1884 and had a length of 1760ft. When the railroad was standard gauged the siding was renamed as Fruita. A depot was built. Over the years Fruita was lengthened several times and a midpoint crossover added. The last time Fruita was changed was in 1991 when length was increased from 12800 ft to today's length.
Occasionally trains are parked here when Grand Junction is full.
MP 463.80 Gary Yard Length: n/a
MP 465.20 Loma Station, Siding
Loma used to be a passenger station from 1915. A siding was added in 1926 (length 4250ft). The siding was not used after 1945 and dismantled in the early fifties.
MP 468.90 Mack Siding Length: 7700ft
The siding was built as Crevasse Siding in 1884 being just 180ft long. A water tank was added to service steam engines. When the railroad was converted to standard gauge in 1889 Crevasse was renamed as Mack. The length of the siding was increased several times starting in 1926 to 3200 ft, continuing in 1927 to 5000ft and finally reaching a maximum of 8100ft during World War II. In 1954 it was shortened again to today's dimensions.
This is the starting point of the Ruby Canyon area. Steep cliffs do not leave much room for a railroad and an interstate. As a result, the Interstate was built outside of the canyon. Unfortunately, this means few of the magnificent sights can be seen from the Interstate or its exits.
Originally, the Rio Grande Western was graded from Mack to the north over the mountains and on to Whitehouse. This involved steep 4% grades. In 1890, the tracks were relocated through the Canyon. At the same time they were converted from narrow gauge to standard gauge. The resulting grade avoided steep sections and saved the railroad roughly 20 miles.
Mack used to be the intersection point with the Uintah Railway. This narrow gauge railway headed north for about 70 miles to several mines, notably the Dragon Mine, Rainbow Mine and Watson Mine.
MP 471.40 Ruby Tunnel
The railroad enters Ruby Canyon by means of this tunnel. This is an interesting solution, as an open entry via Horsethief Canyon would have been possible.
MP 473.10 Ruby Siding Length: 7570ft
MP 478.00 Shale Siding Length: 4540ft
This is a relatively short siding. Lengthening is hampered by its geographical positioning between the Colorado river on one side and a rock face on the other. Just west of Shale remains from the original 1889 railroad (alignment) can be seen curving along the rock face. Today the tracks are located closer to the river to avoid falling rock.
Approx. MP 481 Bridge
A short bridge is located here spanning over McDonald Creek.
MP 483.30 Utaline Siding Length: 6070ft
Built on the original 1889 right of way. The siding track is the railroads mainline until recently, when today's main track was added and the original alignment made into the siding. The scenery changes somewhat: To the west the cliffs of Ruby Canyon are considerably lower.
MP 485.00 Old Grade
Remains of old grade can be spotted at this position.
MP 488.40 Westwater Siding Length: 9890ft
The exit point of Ruby Canyon. From here it is wide open desert with sandy hills.
The siding sits on the original 1889/90 grade. At one time the siding was only 3800 ft long. In 1935 it was lengthened to 5800 ft and in 1991 further to its present length. In days gone by, maintenance buildings were located here but those have been removed.
An interesting feature of Westwater Siding is, that it is located "on the rocks". During construction, the grade was carved out of the bottom of the cliffs. Since Westwater is fairly long, many train meets are staged here by dispatchers.
Abandoned Railroad Grade
To get a glimpse of the "old" Rio Grande grade, which was abandoned in 1880 follow I-70 to Exit 212 in Utah.
Turn north unto Cottonwood Road and keep your eyes open, so you don't miss the "entry point".
After about two miles you will spot the old railroad grade to your right.
You can follow it for about 10 miles and then turn right into Pechula Road which leads you back to I-70 Exit 220.
Again a 4WD car is highly recommended if you want to drive along the grade.
MP 504.40 Cisco Siding Length: 6890ft
MP 510.50 Whitehouse Siding Length: 6140ft
Whitehorse marks the point where the railroad meets the original narrow gauge grade which once led over the mountains to Ruby (siding)
MP 515.60 Elba Siding Length: 5490ft
MP 520.70 Sagers Siding, Wye Length: 7760ft
MP 528.10 Thompson Siding, Station Length: 7210ft
This is another divide. From here on the railway starts to descent again until it reaches Helper, which is the starting point of Soldier Summit. Thompson Springs was the only scheduled passenger station between Grand Junction and Price.
Until the year 1952, Thompson was the intersection point with the Ballard & Thompson Railroad which led to the coal mines near Sego. After the mines closed down, the railroad was dismantled.
MP 533.80 Brendel Siding, Junction, Yard Length: 5100ft
Brendel is the division point with the Rio Grande’s Potash Branch. The line to Potash is one of the most spectacular railroad grades in the area, clinging to steep cliffs and passing by the entrance to Arches National Park. Unfortunately, only a few local trains operate on this line making rail fanning a very frustrating task.
MP 540.40 Floy Siding Length: 5890ft
MP 546.90 Solitude Siding Length: 7810ft
The name says it all. This is a siding in the middle of the desert surrounded by Nothing !
MP 559.00 Atlas
MP 561.50 Sphinx Siding Length: 6090ft
MP 567.60 Desert Siding Length: 6020ft
On March 30th 1883, the last spike was driven on this location and the railroad was put into operation. However, the original narrow gauge line was too steep, too curvy and too provisional. These conditions called for major reconstruction. In 1890 the grade was realigned and converted to standard gauge.
MP 574.20 Vista Siding Length: 6050ft
MP 581.40 Woodside Siding Length: 6310ft
Originally, the grade lead along Price River Canyon and Silvagni to Verde. Shortly after operations began ,the railroad grade was washed away and rebuilt along its present route.
MP 586.60 Grassy Siding Length: 6210ft
The name of this siding stems from “Grassy Trail” a trail that was made by a trapper named Grassy during the early years of the 19th century.
MP 593.10 Cedar Siding Length: 5940ft
MP 599.30 Verde
MP 602.90 Mounds Siding, Junction Length: 8930ft
Mounds is the intersection point with the Sunnyside Branch. The branchline was built in 1899 by the Carbon County Railroad and later bought by the Denver and Rio Grande in 1900.
A new Carbon County Railroad was founded during World War II to serve a mine operated by U.S. Steel in Horse Canyon.
Today, long coal trains are assembled in Sunnyside for their journey down the branchline to Mounds and then further on the mainline.
MP 611.30 Wash Siding Length: 11240ft
MP 613.00 Wellington Siding Length: 6180ft
MP 615.80 C.V. Junction, Wye
This is the intersection point with a short (two mile long) branchline to the south east serving the Acco Mine and the Coop Mine. Both mines have a loop track to turn trains around.
MP 619.10 Price Siding Length: 10790ft
This siding was once a junction with the Castle Valley Railroad which led from hear to Mohrland (17 miles in the southeast). The CVR served coal mines in Gaylord and Millerton as well as the Hawk Mine.
Price is a pretty little town with some vegetation, a river and green willows - a nice change after travelling through all the dry desert land.
MP 622.10 Maxwel Siding Length: 6350ft
Last Update: Mar 1st 2008
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