MP 025.44 Tunnel 2 Length: 0516ft
This is where the so called „Flatirons“ start - huge rock formations of layered rock that lay at a 45° angle over the mountain side, looking somewhat like the similarly named household appliance.
The railroad cuts right through these rock formations by means of dark, narrow tunnels. The inside of these tunnels is marked by the soot of all the steam engines and diesels which travelled through here over the last 100 years.
MP 025.70 Bull Gulch Trestle
This used to be a wooden trestle bridge stretching over Bull Gulch Creek. The cost of maintaining this bridge was high, therefore in 1941 the trestle was replaced by a fill.
MP 025.79 Tunnel 3 Length: 0369ft
On the west portal, one finds a path, which leads behind some rocks above the tunnel. Obviously this is a favourite, but illegal train watching spot – as numerous discarded Coca Cola cans indicate.
MP 026.00 Tunnel 4 Length: 0174ft
MP 026.11 Tunnel 5 Length: 0585ft
MP 026.35 Tunnel 6 Length: 0536ft
MP 026.63 Tunnel 7 Length: 0208ft
This is a famous location often depicted in company photographs and paintings. Flatiron stands at a 45° angle right over the tracks as the railroad passes underneath.
MP 026.91 Tunnel 8 Length: 0753ft
The portal on the uphill side only looks solid when it is viewed from the front. Climbing up the mountain to the side of it, one can see behind the portal and onto the outside bracing of the tunnel. The mountain has eroded for a few yards leaving the portal slightly in the clear.
MP 027.00 Tunnel 9 Length: 0120ft
This tunnel was abandoned during construction as the rock in this area tends to be unstable. Instead the tracks lead around the site of the tunnel on what is called a “shoe fly”. Due to the location on the slope this was a narrow turn meaning a permanent slow order. Later the “tunnel” was excavated and the rocks cleared away leaving a gap in the numbering system of the tunnels.
One can still guess the original intention of making a tunnel here and see what could have been the outside wall of the tunnel. There is a hiking trail leading to the old Crags Hotel site that ends at the west portal of Tunnel 10. Often hikers take the long uphill walk and gaze into the tunnel bore.
MP 027.25 Crags Spur Length: n/a
Only a few yards from the Tunnel 9, site there used to be a spur, a stub track to park a short passenger train with tourists for the Crags Hotel. This was located a couple of hundred yards downhill and used to be one of Denver's weekend resorts.
Today there is nothing left of the hotel and you have to have a lot of imagination to spot the location of the house. The siding was dismantled in 1949 but the location of the tracks is still visible.
Since there are a lot of sliding rocks and (stone) avalanches here, the railroad has installed fences with signal wires to detect any landslide (Sliding Rock Detectors). Should rocks hit the fence, an alarm is set off to warn any oncoming train.
MP 027.42 Tunnel 10 Length: 1572 ft
This is a fairly long tunnel running a slight curve. Thus, the above walkers will not see the other end when peeking into the bore.
Once this tunnel was lined with wood. In 1943, sparks from a steam locomotive set fire to the lining of the tunnel closing down the line for a week. The fire brigade was unable to extinguish the fire as the draft inside the tunnel blew the flames out towards them. Eventually, the flames where suffocated by temporary closing both portals.
For weeks passengers had to walk around the tunnel and use another train that would wait for them on the other side whilst the tunnel was being repaired.
Today the tunnel is lined with concrete. On the east side there is no portal, There is just a hole beaten into the mountain.
MP 027.60 Moffat Lakes Spur Length: n/a
Between 1903 and 1905, a short stub track and a water tank was located here. Today, if you look very closely and know where to look, you can spot some old rusted water pipes here.
MP 027.81 Tunnel 11 Length: 0238ft
Short tunnel that leads around a curve.
MP 027.93 Tunnel 12 Length: 0429ft
MP 028.14 Tunnel 13 Length: 0312ft
MP 028.28 Tunnel 14 Length: 0434ft
Some historians believe that on the west side of the tunnel, another trestle bridge was located. However, there are no written records or photographs of this.
MP 028.46 Tunnel 15 Length: 0444ft
MP 028.72 Tunnel 16 Length: 0698ft
On the east side of the tunnel, there is a waterfall that often freezes during the winter. The icicles have to be removed manually as they obstruct the clearance for trains. Occasionally water inside the tunnel is a problem.
On the west side of the tunnel, the tracks make a 180° horseshoe curve. If you sit in the back of a train, you can see the locomotive coming around on the other side.
The flatirons end here and the territory becomes less steep. The railroad travels on the other side of the South Boulder Creek now and you can see some of the tracks you just rode on. This is possible until the tracks curve away.
MP 029.00 Old Tunnel 17 Length: 0110ft
The tunnel caved in during construction. As on Tunnel 9 a "shoofly" track was constructed around the tunnel site. This meant another slow order for trains. In 1938 the tunnel was dug out and today it is just a cut. One can still see where the shoofly track was.
Unlike Tunnel 9 the number of this "would be" tunnel was given to the next tunnel so there is no gap in the numbering system of the tunnels here.
MP 029.33 Quartz Spur Length: n/a
There used to be a small quartz mine here. The stub track served this mine. Only a few cars could be parked on it. In 1935, the track was lengthened and able to take up to ten cars. It was used as a scheduled stop for trains 1 & 2. On the other side of the spur, another switch was inserted transforming the spur into a passing siding. In 1949, the siding was removed.
MP 029.50 Tunnel 17 Length: 1730ft
MP 029.97 Tunnel 18 Length: 0238ft
MP 031.20 Crescent Siding Length: 5550ft
First siding after Plainview. This is used quite a lot. You will often find maintenance crews and equipment here. The name Crescent comes from the crescent-like shape of the siding which curves around the mountainside.
The siding can be reached by car if you depart Hwy 72 following the signs to Gross Dam Reservoir. This will lead you to a grade crossing which is located on the siding. If you continue down this road past Crescent, you will eventually get to the Gross Dam which can also be seen in the distance from the grade crossing at Crescent.
In the old days, Crescent was also a station of the Denver Northwestern & Pacific but there is nothing much left to indicate its existence nowadays.
In addition, there used to be a Spur on the uphill side of the siding called Baker Spur which served a cattle farm. The siding is not there anymore.
MP 032.11 Tunnel 19 Length: 1055ft
MP 032.45 Tunnel 20 Length: 0460ft
On April 11th 1905, a fire broke out in this tunnel. A spark from a steam engine set fire to the wooden lining of the tunnel.
MP 032.71 Tunnel 21 Length: 0667ft
MP 032.98 Tunnel 22 Length: 0180ft
Initially, this tunnel was lined with wood because the rock tends to be unstable at this location. However, the mountain kept pushing through the wood so eventually rails were bent to a U-shape and inserted below the wood as supporting struts. Later, the inside of the tunnel was lined with concrete.
MP 033.20 Tunnel 23 Length: 1553ft
On the first day of its construction, a worker was killed here. In February 1903, holes were drilled on the location of the east portal to insert dynamite and blast the tunnel. Four holes were drilled and four sticks of dynamite inserted three of which exploded. This went unnoticed by the construction team. When the drills returned for the next set of holes one of the workers hit the unexploded dynamite stick which then blew up. The worker lost his eyesight. His colleague was killed as the drill was flung against his head by the blast.
MP 034.00 Miramonte Length: n/a
Miramonte used to be a vacation spot and a „Stop-On-Request“ by the Denver Northwestern & Pacific. The railroad ran specials for sports fishers here. The spur that was large enough for two coaches was used until 1919. In 1935 the tracks were removed. Miramonte however continued to be a regular stop until 1948, when it disappeared from schedules in 1949 forever.
Some remains of the village can still be found here including parts of an old barn.
MP 034.10 Tunnel 24 Length: 0812ft
There are said to be remains of a trestle bridge on the west portal of this tunnel.
MP 034.61 Tunnel 25 Length: 0639ft
MP 035.22 Tunnel 26 Length: 0295ft
In 1991, near the west portal, a severe accident occurred in 1991. A rockslide had covered the tracks with debris. The engineer of the Denver bound train did not have much of a chance to brake and consequently ran right into the rocks at the tunnel exit. The locomotive and some of the cars tumbled down the mountainside and both engineer and conductor died.
MP 035.72 Tunnel 27 Length: 0643ft
This tunnel was originally lined with wood. Water kept seeping into the tunnel softening the wood. Eventually the tunnel was daylighted in 1951.
MP 036.02 Tunnel 28 Length: 0124ft
This seems to be a popular although illegal and dangerous spot with free climbers and fishermen. Next to the tracks there is a very steep rock face and not much room to avoid a train if one were approaching.
MP 036.38 Tunnel 29 Length: 0078ft
Shortest tunnel of the tunnel district. You can reach this tunnel from the road above before it descends into the settlement of Pinecliff. A narrow trail leads through the grass trackside.
MP 036.45 Bridge Length: n/a
In 1946, the wooden trestle bridge across South Boulder Creek was replaced by today’s steel bridge. If you are in a hurry and want to get some nice photos of trains, follow the path from the Pinecliff grade crossing towards the bridge. There are some nice viewpoints here for taking photos of westbound trains with the bridge, South Boulder Creek and the rock formations.
MP 037.00 Cliff Siding Length: 6900ft
Very long siding accessible from several locations. Here you can find another lubricating device for flanges and rails. Originally, the siding was called Gato and had a water tower. In 1907, the name was changed to Pinecliff and a second water tower was erected near the other end of the siding. Now the steam engines at the head of the train could be serviced at the same time as the helpers on the rear received water.
Engineers soon shortened the name to Cliff even though the settlement is still named Pinecliff. At the east end of the siding, there was once a passenger station. There is nothing left of the building that once stood there.
This is the end of the so-called tunnel district, even though there is one more tunnel between here and Moffat Tunnel.
Final Approach to the Moffat Tunnel:
MP 038.00 Lincoln Hills Station & Pactolous Siding Length: 1680ft
Neither the station nor the siding exist today. Pactolous was once a vacation resort and also an ice skating location where Denverites would go in the winter months to have fun on the frozen ponds.
An ice making facility was also located here which cut ice blocks and shipped them to Denver for refrigeration purposes. When electric refrigerators became more widespread, the need for natural ice dwindled and the “factory” plus the station disappeared. Some remains of the facility can still be seen today from the train.
MP 040.47 Tunnel 30 Length: 0257ft
Located inside a hidden "Mini Tunnel District" the railroad traverses a small gorge inaccessible from the outside.
MP 042.10 Rollins Siding Length: 8320ft
Rollinsville was founded by John Q. Rollins in the mid 19th century.
In 1861, a stamp mill was constructed which handled gold ore from nearby mines. The mill had 12 stamps and was powered by a steam engine. Water was supplied by a water chute running along its upper end .
In 1871 a post office was opened at Rollinsville. Rollins also built a toll road over Rollins Pass leading to Middle Park. The road lost importance when Berthoud Pass was improved, entering Middle Park via a less strenuous lower altitude route from the southerly direction. Parts of Rollins Pass road were later used by the Moffat Road.
Other buildings in Rollinsville included a stage station (which is now a restaurant) and an icehouse which stored ice cut from the lakes during winter. The ice blocks where loaded onto freight cars for refrigeration and shipped to Denver to be used for home refrigerators before the days of mechanical refrigeration. Remains of the structure can still be seen trackside.
There was no saloon or gambling hall since Rollins forbade any such establishments in his town.
In Rollinsville, you will find a historic store which sells the Rollins Pass Self Drive Guide, a small leaflet published by the Rollins Pass historical society explaining all the sights on the pass.
You will have to leave paved roads here in order to get to the Moffat Tunnel East Portal. There is a washboard road made by bulldozers which is also very well drivable by conventional (non-4WD) autos in the summer months.
Gold Dirt Ghost Town Site
The Gold Dirt site can be reached by following Hwy 119 to the south for a mile and taking the first dirt road to the right.
Mining in nearby Gamble Gulch began in 1860. Gold Dirt was established at that time. A post office was added in 1861. The latter closed in 1867. After the post office was abandoned, the town started to decay and soon the mine and mill closed down.
A few years later Rollins had bought most of the claims in the area and started mining in Gold Dirt. The Savage Mine is said to have had a shaft as deep as 1000 ft. This led to a revival of the town and some more mines. By 1879, mining ceased and the town was once again abandoned.
MP 046.10 Benson (Station and Settlement)
During construction of the railroad in 1903, there was a small city here called Benson. It was inhabited and used solely for railroad workers involved in the construction of the Moffat Road.
There was a small hospital here and also a few saloons, shops and boarding houses for the workers. The settlement soon received nicknames like “Slabtown” and “Ragtown” indicating the labourers view of the comforts offered here.
Today nothing can be said about the quality of life in Benson as all traces are gone. The location was near the mouth of Jenny Lind Gulch where it flows into South Boulder Creek.
Baltimore Town Site
Following a dirt road for about ¼ mile to the south you will arrive at the site of Baltimore. Several cabins are located in the forest (some of them restored). There are also the remains of the old town hall. The town had a post office between 1898 and 1904 and an opera house until 1935. There was a saloon called the Baltimore Club and a two story hotel. Not much is left today. The site is on private grounds.
MP 047.10 Tolland Siding Length: 5660ft
Often trains are parked here when there is congestion on the line, blocking the grade crossing for an amount of time. In case you are train chasing, it is recommended to first cross the tracks and then park the car before taking photos.
MP 47.10 Tolland
Originally, this place was called Mammoth and was the "end of the line" for the Moffat Road until 1903.
Mammoth was a mining town and a stage stop for the route over Rollins Pass. It was renamed Tolland when the Toll family settled here.
When the railroad arrived, the village became very popular with tourists, who arrived from Denver by train to have a picnic and enjoy the mountain views. There was a popular hotel here to cater to those wishing to stay over night. On some days, a record number of 3000 weekenders were brought up here by 12 trains on a single day. A post office was opened in 1904 (moved down from Baltimore) which closed again in 1944. Lunch rooms and souvenir shops soon catered to the railroad tourists.
Only a handful of houses remain here today. The most prominent is the old schoolhouse which has been restored and is often mistaken for a church.
Tolland is the home of the Gilpin County Sheriff, right next to the 15mph speed limit. Like other residents he is understandably not pleased when rail fans get carried away speeding and engulfing his house in a cloud of street dust.
Apex Ghost Town
A small road departs uphill to the site of Apex ghost town. Now much remains to be seen here though.
MP 050.10 East Portal Siding, Wye Length: 5750ft
This is the last siding and it ends right at the East Portal of the Moffat Tunnel. There is an old wye here, which believe it or not (it doesn’t look like it could still carry trains) is used today to turn around short trains or snow plows. Occasionally, a test train of the Colorado Springs Test Centre will venture up here and turn its equipment.
Snow in the tunnel district is moderate, so the use of rotaries is not necessary.
Before the days of Moffat Tunnel, the wye also was the beginning of the line across Rollins Pass.
MP 050.18 Moffat Tunnel - East Portal
East Portal is an impressive sight. One side of the structure is a large blower house. After a train has entered the tunnel, a shutter gate (about 30 yards into the tunnel) will close behind it and after a while the blower will start running, sucking dense clouds of diesel smoke out of the tunnel.
A similar blower was located on the West Portal as well, but this is not used anymore. Parallel to the tunnel, a water tunnel carries drinking water from Winter Park to Denver.
Last Update: Mar 1st 2008
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