It was soon realized that Leadville would produce fantastic rail revenues for the line that got there first. Competition was keen for the rights to Leadville. Palmer, having been cut off at Raton Pass, turned westward up the Arkansas River Canyon in , rapidly building toward Leadville. There were other rivals, too.
Rails Along The Valley
In construction up the Platte River Canyon was underway. The Lechner and King Mines provided fuel, and the railroad built an extension from Como to these places for development. Como, by , was a tent city of some 6, residents, including miners, railroad workers, and others cashing in on the mini-boom. The South Park line was prepared to cross Trout Creek Pass and build up the Arkansas River into Leadville when its management ran into unexpected troubles.
These dreams were dashed by events not of the South Park's making. A race was on between the two roads, and when they reached the Canyon of the Arkansas Royal Gorge , there was no room for two railroads. The rivals locked in battle, beginning the "Royal Gorge War. Judge Moses Hallett of Denver's U. District Court did not help matters by ruling, in a preliminary injunction, that both companies had rights to the canyon.
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Palmer, assuming he had lost the legal battle, prepared for physical confrontation. Assistant Chief Engineer James R. DeReemer, located twenty miles up river from Canon City, created a "deadline" with ties and then built stone "forts" on the canyon walls all the way up to Texas Creek so to defend Rio Grande workers from Santa Fe crews.
These works are still visible from U. Highway There were no shots fired, and the Royal Gorge War took place in courtrooms, not the Canyon of the Arkansas.
COLORADO ROCKIES, RAILS & WESTERN NATIONAL PARKS
In return, the Santa Fe agreed not to build lines that were competitive or that would lower freight rates on the Rio Grande. The Rio Grande battled in court during , hoping to regain sole ownership of the road. In April of that year, the U. Supreme Court affirmed the Rio Grande's claims to the Royal Gorge, but provided for joint trackage rights where the canyon was too narrow for both railroads.
This was promptly overturned by Judge Hallett in Denver. While a financial settlement was being arranged between the two railroads, the Santa Fe built the famous "Hanging Bridge" in the narrowest part of the Royal Gorge. It was unique because the structure hung from the Canyon's walls along the river rather than crossing the stream.
The lease was broken by bankruptcy, and the Santa Fe, free again, announced they would build a line to Denver next to the existing Rio Grande main line. The road to Leadville was opened to Palmer by , but his problems were far from over. The Rio Grande, having reached Leadville in , was forced to lower its freight rates. Colorado Springs businessmen like Irving Howbert and J.
Humphrey got Jerome Wheeler, J. Buck, Charles Otis and J. Hagerman to capitalize construction of a standard gauge road from that city to Leadville. While the railroad was incorporated in , construction did not actually begin until For instance, in the narrowest part of the Upper Arkansas River Canyon, the Midland drilled four tunnels in just four-tenths of a mile, finally arriving at Leadville on August 31, Now that city had three railroads serving it, and they were all looking to better things.
Railroad construction's importance to southeastern and south central Colorado cannot be underestimated. This form of transportation not only provided fast and relatively inexpensive freight and passenger service, but it made settlement in remote areas practical. Further, railroads made marginal mining possible and provided a way to get low-quality ores to smelters.
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In addition, food and durable goods were imported at lower costs and local standards of living rose. The year was the culmination of Colorado's fight for statehood, for in August of that year Colorado was admitted to the Union. The long battle for this privilege was over. After several false starts, a Constitutional Convention prepared an acceptable State constitution and the U. Congress voted admission. President U.
Grant signed the entrance papers, and Colorado became a state on August 1, One of the provisions of the statehood Enabling Act was that the new State of Colorado would relinquish, forever, all claims to public domain within her borders. This was done, and not twenty years later, Coloradans were to regret it. Once statehood was obtained, the question as to Colorado's new capitol arose. Suggestions ranged from Leadville to Silver Cliff both with large populations , but Denver was chosen.
In the 's a new capitol building was erected at that city. State facility location became a major fight. Cities throughout Colorado saw location of State facilities beneficial to their economies and were willing to fight for the various plums. Canon City's boosters saw the location of a prison there as having more "growth potential" and were pleased when the legislature agreed to build the State Prison at Canon City. Boulder, laughed Canon City residents, had "lost.
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Likewise Pueblo got the State Mental Asylum, which did not add a great deal to the local economy primarily due to the lack of purchasing power by its inmates. Nonetheless, these cities were typical of what good lobby efforts could do for a town. The decade of the 's also saw considerable growth and development along the Arkansas River corridor.
The San Luis Valley and Raton Basin regions were populated, thanks not only to rail connections, but also due to governmental encouragement in the form of surveys. One of the last great survey efforts was that of Ferdinand V. Hayden of the U. Geological Survey GS. The Hayden expeditions were designed to map and record areas of this and other states that, prior to , were not accurately described.
Hayden, over a period of four years, explored the western slope, the southwestern corner of Colorado, North and Middle Parks, and in his men fanned out over the Front Range to map and record geologic and geographic features of this region.
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Hayden was not unfamiliar with this part of Colorado, for in he had noted "oil springs" around Canon City and also that there were major coal deposits here. He also described salt deposits in South Park. This referred to Charles L. Hall's Colorado Salt Works Company which began operation in and continued into the s. Peale mapped many of the producing mines of South Park, while Henry Gannett described the topography and climate of the park as ideal for cattle and sheep. The annual report of provided detailed maps of this region, including towns, roads, drainages and elevations. Publication of Hayden's works attracted the attention of land developers and mining investors who used this information to promote settlement.
Nestled among the Front Range mountains less than an hour from downtown Denver, Once a rough-and-tumble mining town inhabited by cowboys, gold-seekers and infamous ruffians like Wild Bill Hickok and Buffalo Bill Cody, modern Colorado is home to some of the nation's best-preserved cliff dwellings and American Indian archological finds. Google Tag Manager. Rio Grande Scenic Railroad Originally, these workaday trains brought supplies to inaccessible mining settlements.
California Zephyr This daily Amtrak train is not antique, but it certainly is scenic. A land full of history — from ancient times to the Wild West — Mesa Verde Country is packed with stories waiting to be told amid spectacular American Indian History in Southwest Colorado. Meals included: Breakfast. Public Dates and Availability. July Request your Private Date.