DRGW History and Information  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

David Moffat's Denver, Northwestern & Pacific (and later the Denver & Salt Lake) was posed with a seemingly huge problem in their construction of a line due west of Denver - how to cross the Continental Divide. At this point in the Rockies, all usable passes over the Divide are above the 11,000-foot level (making them prone to severe winter weather) and tend to have very challenging approaches, requiring stiff grades. The obvious answer would be to tunnel beneath the backbone of the Rockies at this point, but any tunnel of sufficient length would have required funding and time that the road did not have. Instead of constructing what was known as the Main Range Tunnel (a proposed 2.6-mile version of the Moffat Tunnel), Moffat chose to push over Rollins / Corona Pass with a temporary mainline that would get his road moving west of the Divide, with the intent to finish the Main Range tunnel within a few short years. The line reached the apex at Corona in late 1904, and much against the original plans would continue to serve as the mainline for over two decades.

Finally, on February 26, 1928, the first official train went below the Divide at a little over 9200 feet of elevation, rather than over the hill. An alternate, better Main Range tunnel than the one originally planned had been completed with the with the assistance of the state of Colorado. Christened the Moffat Tunnel, this 6.21-mile bore was built honoring the man who would never live to see it.... (Continued)

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