Friday, May 25, 2007
Three Foot to Paradise
Just west of Denver in the Clear Creek Canyon area that I-70 passes through is some of the neatest railroad history in the country. 125 years ago this rugged country was difficult to get to. It was the realm of mountain toll roads, busted wagon wheels, and days of travel. Then silver was discovered. Men did what men do best. They conquered, and some say ruined, the country. Using what was known as "narrow gauge" the railroad came to Clear Creek Country. Narrow gauge refers to the distance between the rails. On a standard railroad the gauge is 4 feet, eight and one half inches. (Roman chariot wheel spacing, I believe) In these mountains they used a gauge of 3 feet to reduce costs and time.
If you drive west of Denver on the old 40 highway through Golden most of this highway follows the path of the narrow gauge. In fact it was highway 40 that was the death of the narrow gauge and it was I-70 that erased most of the history of the area.
Today's pictures are of remnants of the Colorado and Southern narrow gauge. The top picture is C&S Number 60 and a coach on display at Idaho Springs. The bottom two pictures are of the Devil's Gate Bridge on the Georgetown Loop. This was rebuilt as a tourist railroad in the 1960's and is located between Georgetown and Silver Plume. Long after the minerals played out the C& S survived due to the popularity of this section of track. People from Denver would ride the narrow gauge to see this loop and then picnic in Silver Plume.
I hope you enjoyed today's history lesson. Have a great Friday.