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Denver & Rio Grande Western train picture gallery, through the Moffat Tunnel and the Craig Branch

Denver & Rio Grande Western Zephyr

The Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad Company had a phrase "Through the Rockies not Around Them." To move trains between Denver and Salt Lake City required muscling tonnage over two major mountain passes. The Rocky Mountains were finally conquered with the completion of the Moffat Tunnel in 1927. This lowered the top of the grade over the Rollins Pass from 11,617 feet to just 9,239 feet. The second pass was in Utah and went over the Wasatch Range at Soldier Summit. Trains operating out of Pueblo had to conquer Tennessee Pass at 10,230 feet. Mountains had to be overcome to reach the train's destination no matter which route a train took.

The D&RGW began its signal program in 1927. It ordered and installed GRS color light signals from Glenwood to Palisade in 1927. Block signals were installed from Glenwood to Gypsum in 1927 and extended to Minturn in 1928. Block signals were installed Palisade to Maxwell, UT in 1929.

After six years of excavation and construction, the Moffat Tunnel opened February 27, 1928. The Dotsero Cutoff opened June 15, 1934. D&SL installed block signals Denver to Winter Park in 1941. In 1943 D&SL installed block signals Kremmling to Orestod and installed a GRS interlocking at Orestod

CTC was completed Grand Junction east to near Palisade 14 miles in 1937. This was extended east another eight miles to Tunnel in 1941. The CTC machine had 19 levers to control 12 switches and 34 signals. Between Bond and Dotsero 43 GRS color light signals were installed in 1941. Also CTC was installed Dotsero west to Chacra 26 miles. The Dotsero to Grand Junction CTC project was complete in 1942 when CTC was added between Chacra and Tunnel.

In 1944, D&SL ordered CTC equipment for Denver to Oresod 126 miles. There would be three CTC machines. Denver would control Denver to East Portal. Sulphur would control Winter Park to Yarmony and Orestod would control Yarmony to Orestod. The installation was completed in 1945. The D&SL becomes a part of the D&RGW in 1947. That same year, the D&RGW ordered GRS equipment to add to the CTC machine at Denver to control the East Portal area, previously under interlocking. In 1954, the D&RGW consolidated three CTC territories (Helper to Cottonwood, Green River to Grand Junction, and DeBeque to Dotsero) from three different offices into the Grand Junction office in 1954.

For this series we will follow Denver & Rio Grande Western trackage eastward alongside the Colorado River from near the Colorado border to the crew change at Bond, a side trip up the Craig Branch, and finally through the Moffat Tunnel.

All pictures in this series are on disks 35 and 36. You can purchase a disk and printout any of the pictures for your own use to dress up your train room or add color to a house that just cries out for more train pictures.

Mack, CO
State Bridge
Byers Canyon
Hot Sulphur Springs
Winter Park
East Portal