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Making The Duc Back Ride - View details about the creation of this essay
Area map - View a complete map of the Denver, South Park & Pacific Railroad system
Page 1 - Denver to Morrison including Red Rocks Park
Page 2 - Waterton Canyon to South Platte
Page 3 - The Nighthawk Branch, Dome Rock and the Westall Monument
Page 4 - Foxton to Buffalo Creek
Page 5 - Bailey to Kenosha Hill Summit
Page 6 - Kenosha Hill Summit to Como
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Click for larger map

Follow the ride on a map! Numbers above the image pairs correspond to locations on the map. Click on any small map for a larger version with all locations identified!



A very brief history of the Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad:
Skip the history and go to the pics!

John Evans, the second governor of the Colorado Territory from 1862-1865, was born in Waynesville, Ohio, on March 9, 1814.  In 1838 Evans graduated with an M.D. from Clermont Academy.  In the 1860s, Dr. Evans traveled extensively throughout Colorado on horseback and by stagecoach.  The Governor was well aware of the significant timber, agricultural and mineral resources of the area and the need for adequate, reliable transportation into the "back country."  Dr. Evans, like his predecessor William Gilpin, saw Denver as the future hub of the railroad industry.  Dr. Evans secured federal land grants and county bonds to create a Union Pacific line from Cheyenne, Wyoming, to Denver, a route that opened on June 24, 1870.  Dr. Evans continued to be the main financier of Denver's railroad empire until his death on July 2, 1897.  The Denver, South Park and Pacific, among other lines, were all made possible by John Evans' vision and capital.

As early as 1868, now former Governor Evans and his associates had commissioned a survey for a railway line from Denver to Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Dr. Evans and 2 of his associates formed the Denver, South Park and Pacific Railway on October 1, 1872.  Unable to generate adequate funding, no construction was accomplished by this firm.

Then, on June 16, 1873, Dr. Evans formed a new company under the charter of the Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad.  Grading was begun south of Denver on August 1873.  After numerous delays the first rails were spiked down on May 18, 1874.  The DSP&P would soon use much of earlier right-of-way surveys through the South Platte River Canyon.  (Early newspapers and timetables would use the Spanish spelling of "Cañon.")

The South Park line would be built to the same three-foot (narrow) gauge that earlier had been adopted by William Jackson Palmer's Denver and Rio Grande Railroad.  This narrow-gauge, it was believed, could better cope with mountainous terrain, with its ability to use a smaller right-of-way, sharper curves, lighter rails and smaller, less expensive equipment.  It was thought that a narrow gauge line could be constructed for about one-third the cost of a standard gauge line.

The first construction attempted by the new DSP&P was from Denver to Morrison, a small quarry town 16 miles (25.8 km) southwest.  The road's construction company, the Denver Railway Association, completed the DSP&P's line to Morrison quite rapidly.  By late June 1874, the line was in operation.

Also, by 1874, rich gold and silver strikes were being made near Leadville and elsewhere.  Plans were soon formed to continue from Denver to the Arkansas Valley and Leadville, some 150 miles (241.5 km) distant.  The Morrison line would soon become a branch as the mainline continued south from Bear Creek Junction, near the present day Denver suburb of Ft. Logan.  Here, the DSP&P erected a two-story, wood-framed depot.  By the 1890s the location would become known as Sheridan Junction.

Track laying crews followed grading and bridge builders as they advanced slowly through the narrow defiles of the Platte Canyon throughout 1877-78.  The line through the Platte River Canyon was considered an engineering marvel in its day.

The summer of 1878 saw the arrival of the railroad's first locomotive.  After the rails reached Dome Rock in Platte River Canyon a special run was made behind the new locomotive.  Fourteen cars of invited guests were taken to the then end-of-track at Dome Rock on June 7, 1878.  Buffalo (Buffalo Creek) came next along with Pine (Pine Grove) and the track laying progressed as far as Bailey's (Bailey), some 47 miles (75.7 km) from Bear Creek Junction by late autumn 1878.  The line was officially opened to Bailey's on October 11th.

As the South Park railhead advanced, horse-drawn freight and stage lines met it.  Leadville was now "booming" with passengers and tons of supplies bound for the thriving mining camps.

By early 1879, DSP&P tracks had reached Webster and by March of 1879 track crews were busy on the four percent grade up Kenosha Hill (Kenosha Pass).  The summit, at an elevation of 9991 ft (3045 meters) was reached on May 19th and then it was an easy, sweeping, downhill run to the floor of the Great South Park.  Work was now being pushed 24 hours a day with torches being used to light the way at night.

The future division point of Como (and ending point for this essay) was reached in June of 1879.  The mainline trackage was rapidly pushed across South Park's flat valley.  By October the South Park trackmen had reached Weston on the southern end of the park and by February 1880 trackage had reached the Arkansas River and Buena Vista.  Some 36 miles (58 km) from Buena Vista, Leadville would be reached first by the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad.  A joint operating agreement allowed DSP&P trains to operate into Leadville, via Buena Vista, until the DSP&P completed their Leadville branch, via Breckenridge, in 1884.

The Denver, South Park and Pacific would construct a line into Gunnison via the Alpine Tunnel.  At an elevation of 11524ft (3513 meters), the Alpine Tunnel was prone to snow blockages and cave-ins.  It was a continual source of trouble and expense for the railroad.  However, despite initial and then continuing difficulties with the tunnel, the first train into Gunnison arrived on September 1, 1882.  Although the DSP&P would later construct several branch lines in the area, trackage would not continue past Gunnison.  After the Leadville branch was completed in 1884, the railroad would grow no more.

Although the period from the early 1880s to the early 1900s would generally be good for the railroad, operations through the troublesome Alpine Tunnel would end in late 1910.  1915 was the year in which it became clear trains would not run again through the Alpine Tunnel to Gunnison.  The first recorded rail removal was in November 1918 while the 1920s saw the abandonment and removal of various branch lines.  Although operations continued into Leadville and Climax into the early 1940s, it had become clear for some time that the end was approaching.  The last run on the South Park Line was made on August 25, 1943.

REFERENCE:
Chappell, Richardson & Hauck, Colorado Rail Annual No. 12, Colorado Railroad Museum, Golden, CO, 1974
Ferrell, Mallory Hope, The South Park Line, Hundman Publishing, Inc., Mukilteo, WA, 2003
Biography of John Evans, The Territorial Governors Collection at the Colorado State Archives

NOTE:
While dates attributed to the archival photographs may be quite accurate, all should be considered an approximation or "best estimate."


   1
Denver Union Station
Elevation 5180ft (1579 meters)
 Click for larger map 
Denver Union Station Denver Union Station
Denver Public Library, Western History Collection
Unknown Photographer; [X-18854]
1889 2006
GPS Icon
N39 45 11.46   W105 00 00.24     ?
LAT 39.753183  LON -105.000066

Left:    
Left Image
Denver's Union Station. The building was constructed in railroad gothic style and opened in 1881. Prior to Union Staion opening, Denver had several railroad depots and toward the end of the 1870's the Union Depot & Railroad Company was organized for the purpose of establishing a consolidated passenger terminal for the City.

Incorporated in 1879, the Union Depot & Railroad Company began construction in 1880, and the facility opened for business by the middle of 1881 - a remarkably short time. Within a few years up to 60 trains would arrive or depart from the station each day.

On March 18, 1894, a fire destroyed most of the depot. About a year later, Union Depot was rebuilt within the existing exterior walls with a new clock tower, a lower roof profile and small dormers replacing the clerestory facade, changes which are shown in the following photograph from 1896.

Traffic continued to grow, and by 1914 the station was deemed too small. The center section of the old building was demolished and a new central waiting room built, shown in my 3rd photo pair. Today, only the north and south wing exterior walls remain from the original 1881 building.

In conjunction with the 1914 addition, the Union Depot & Railroad Company was reorganized as Denver Union Terminal Railway Company (DUTC) and the terminal itself renamed Denver Union Station. DUTC was owned by the railroads that served the station: Denver & Rio Grande, Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe, Chicago Rock Island & Pacific, Burlington & Quincy, Colorado & Southern and Union Pacific.

Although there have been many changes to the building in the ensuing years, including the signature "UNION STATION Travel by Train" sign added in 1952, the historic terminal building has remained open but the parklike landscaping has been replaced by automobile parking lots.

REFERENCE:
Friends of Union Station, Denver Union Station - A Brief History, Denver, CO, 2005

Right:  
Right Image
Denver Union Station in 2006.To Top Of Page


   1
Denver Union Station
Elevation 5180ft (1579 meters)
 Click for larger map 
Denver Union Station Denver Union Station
Denver Public Library, Western History Collection
Unknown Photographer; [Z-115]
1896 2006
GPS Icon
N39 45 11.46   W105 00 00.24     ?
LAT 39.753183  LON -105.000066

Left:    
Left Image
The backside of Denver Union Station after damage from the 1894 fire was repaired. Compare to the previous photo, notice the larger clock tower and revised roofline.

Right:  
Right Image
Denver Union Station in 2006.To Top Of Page


   1
Denver Union Station
Elevation 5180ft (1579 meters)
 Click for larger map 
Denver Union Station Denver Union Station
Denver Public Library, Western History Collection
Unknown Photographer; [X-25195]
1918 2006
GPS Icon
N39 45 11.46   W105 00 00.24     ?
LAT 39.753183  LON -105.000066

Left:    
Left Image
Union Station is shown here shortly after the large center section was completed in 1914.

Right:  
Right Image
Denver Union Station in 2006.To Top Of Page


 
The Morrison Branch
    2
Morrison
Elevation 5755ft (1754 meters)
 Click for larger map 
Morrison Morrison
Denver Public Library, Western History Collection
Denver Water Board Photograph; [X-11135]
September 25, 1896 2006
GPS Icon
N39 39 13.02   W105 11 27.73     ?
LAT 39.653616  LON -105.191036

Left:    
Left Image
Morrison. Initially the railroad's mainline, the Morrison line quickly became a branch as track work progressed south from Sheridan Junction and into Platte Canyon. In operation by 1874, Morrison line passengers could connect with six-horse Concord coaches of the Denver & South Park Stage Line to Fairplay and Alma. Morrison line trackage was removed 1934 - 1938.

Right:  
Right Image
Morrison in the summer of 2006. For more information visit the Town of Morrison's website.To Top Of Page


 
The Morrison Branch
    3
Red Rocks Park
Elevation 6329ft (1929 meters)
 Click for larger map 
Red Rocks Park Red Rocks Park
Denver Public Library, Western History Collection
Photo by Louis Charles McClure, 1867-1957; [MCC-2026]
1909 2006
GPS Icon
N39 39 51.18   W105 12 08.65     ?
LAT 39.664216  LON -105.202402

Left:    
Left Image
Red Rocks Park and the site of what would become the renowned Red Rocks open-air amphitheatre.

Right:  
Right Image
Red Rocks in June, 2006. Initially known as the "Garden of the Angels," "Creation Park," or "Garden of the Titans," Red Rocks Park contains the geologically formed, open-air amphitheatre that it is said is not duplicated anywhere in the world. Completed in 1941 between the two giant sandstone monoliths in the photo, the amphitheatre is known worldwide for its unique ambience and acoustics. The majestic setting of the amphitheatre along with its panoramic view of Denver makes for a breathtaking scene.

The amphitheatre is part of the 818-acre (331 hectare) Red Rocks Park located in the Rocky Mountain foothills at Morrison approximately 16 miles (26 km) southwest of downtown Denver. The monoliths are named Ship Rock (left) and Creation Rock (right). In the early days of the park a viewing platform was constructed on top of Creation Rock, visible in the photo on the left. To access the viewing platform a walkway was constructed with steps being carved into the upper part of the monolith and these steps are still visible today. The viewing platform was removed in the early 1900's.

The giant sandstone monoliths serve as a history book of animal and plantlife in the area for the past 250 million years. Gradual earth movement slowly raised the great sandstone ledges from prehistoric ocean floor to form the "walls" of the amphitheatre. Within these walls is contained a record book of the ages while nearby dinosaur tracks tell of the Jurassic period of 160 million years ago.To Top Of Page

REFERENCE:
redrocksonline.com, The Geological Wonder of Red Rocks, Denver, CO, 2006


 
The Morrison Branch
    3
Red Rocks Park
Elevation 6329ft (1929 meters)
 Click for larger map 
Red Rocks Park Red Rocks Park
Denver Public Library, Western History Collection
Photo by Otto Roach; [Z-8809]
1920s 2006
GPS Icon
N39 39 55.96   W105 12 19.17     ?
LAT 39.665544  LON -105.205325

Left:    
Left Image
Walking paths are visible in this view of the future amphitheatre site.

Right:  
Right Image
The amphitheatre in 2006.To Top Of Page


 
The Morrison Branch
    3
Red Rocks Park
Elevation 6329ft (1929 meters)
 Click for larger map 
Red Rocks Park Red Rocks Park
Denver Public Library, Western History Collection
Unknown Photographer; [X-20507]
1930s 2006
GPS Icon
N39 39 55.96   W105 12 19.17     ?
LAT 39.665544  LON -105.205325

Left:    
Left Image
The amphitheatre is under construction in this 1930s view.

Right:  
Right Image
The amphitheatre in 2006.To Top Of Page


 
The Morrison Branch
    3
Red Rocks Park
Elevation 6329ft (1929 meters)
 Click for larger map 
Red Rocks Park Red Rocks Park
Denver Public Library, Western History Collection
Unknown Photographer; [X-20504]
1930s 2006
GPS Icon
N39 39 54.98   W105 12 22.40     ?
LAT 39.665272  LON -105.206222

Left:    
Left Image
The amphitheatre is under construction in this 1930s view from above.

Right:  
Right Image
The skyline of Denver is just barely visible in the upper left corner.

Amphitheatre statisticts:
  • Dedicated: June 15, 1941
  • Constructed by: The Civilian Conservation Corps
  • Designed by: Burnham Hoyt
  • Seating capacity: 9450 in 70 rows
  • Stage: 60ft (18.3 meters) wide by 70ft (21.3 meters) deep
  • Stage elevation: 6400ft (1951 meters)
  • Elevation at top of amphitheatre: 6500ft (1981 meters)
  • Burnham Hoyt Visitor Center: Dedicated April 2003
The dramatic setting and natural beauty of the Red Rocks amphitheatre brings performers and audiences together is a way no other venue can produce. For more information on Red Rocks Park visit redrocksonline.com.To Top Of Page


 
The Morrison Branch
    3
Red Rocks Park
Elevation 6329ft (1929 meters)
 Click for larger map 
Red Rocks Park Red Rocks Park
  2006 2006
GPS Icon
N39 39 50.43   W105 12 17.89     ?
LAT 39.664008  LON -105.204969

Left:    
Left Image
Inside the Burnham Hoyt visitor center. The wall on the right contains lists of entertainers who have performed at the park from 1908 to the present.

Right:  
Right Image
Layering in Ship Rock.To Top Of Page


 
The Morrison Branch
    3
Red Rocks Park
Elevation 6329ft (1929 meters)
 Click for larger map 
Red Rocks Park Red Rocks Park
  2006 2006
GPS Icon
N39 39 50.43   W105 12 17.89     ?
LAT 39.664008  LON -105.204969

Left:    
Left Image
One of the many signs within the park. Click for a larger, readable image.

Right:  
Right Image
Detail view. Click for a larger, readable image.To Top Of Page


 
The Morrison Branch
    3
Red Rocks Park
Elevation 6329ft (1929 meters)
 Click for larger map 
Red Rocks Park Red Rocks Park
  2006 2006
GPS Icon
N39 38 49.26   W105 11 47.18     ?
LAT 39.647016  LON -105.196438

Left:    
Left Image
Within the park looking to the south. The amphitheatre is behind the largest rock on the right.

Right:  
Right Image
Outside the park looking to the north.To Top Of Page



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