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Denver and Rio Grande Western Trains
over Tennessee Pass Picture Gallery

Denver and Rio Grande Western train on Tennessee Pass

The battles with the Santa Fe over Raton Pass and the Royal Gorge are legendary. They set the course of the Rio Grande west toward Salt Lake City instead of south through Albuquerque to Mexico. The original narrow gauge mainline between Denver and Ogden via Tennessee Pass was completed in 1883. It was converted to standard gauge in 1890.

The railroad added a second track in sections from Minturn up to Dean between 1903 to 1910. In 1928 automatic block signals were installed from Salida to Minturn. Also the D&RGW installed CTC between Deen (end of double track about 2 miles south of Pando) and Tennessee Pass (6.8 miles). It had a long siding (2.6 miles) in the middle at Mitchell. The CTC machine was in the station at Tennessee Pass next to the number 1 passing track. The wye for turning helpers was 2 tenths of a mile south of the station on the number 1 passing track. The track runs roughly north south between Minturn and Salida. A southbound train is moving railroad east. Both the number 1 passing track (on the east side of the main) and the number 2 passing track (on the west side of the main) had a capacity of 100 cars. There are two power switches at the south end of Tennessee Pass. There were spring switches at the north end of Tennessee Pass, both ends of Mitchell (aligned for right hand running) and the end of double track at Deen. At the time, the line had four to six passenger and three to ten freight trains per day plus returning helpers. Eastbound passenger trains used one helper engine on the point and freight trains used two helper engines toward the rear. Maximum eastbound tonnage was usually 2,800 tons and westward 3,000 tons. During October 1928 total tonnage eastward was 481,000 and westward 313,000. The main difference was the amount of coal moving east. Block signals were installed from Canyon City to Salida in 1929 with additional segments in the 30s near Pueblo completed in 1936. The last segment was 10 GRS color light signals between Florence and Canon City on 7 miles of double track.

CTC was installed from Dotsero to Gypsum in 1946. This helped the blending of westbound trains coming from Minturn. An extensive project in 1958 removed some of the double track between Minturn and Pando and began adding CTC from Gypsum to Kobe. Avon to Gypsum was completed in 1959. The territory was controlled from Grand Junction. CTC between Kobe and Salida was completed in 1961.

For this series we will follow Denver & Rio Grande Western trackage in Colorado from Minturn, over Tennessee Pass and down to the Royal Gorge.

All pictures in this series are on disks 37. 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.

Helper Power
Tennessee Pass