Colorado railroads that don’t involve the Rocky Mountains? Yes, they are part of rail history in the Mile High State and the new Colorado Rail Annual (#32), published by the Colorado Railroad Museum, takes a look at three such lines.
The three non-mountain railroads explored in the new issue are the San Luis Central Railroad, the Greeley Branch of the Union Pacific, and the Arkansas Valley Railway Company. The San Luis Central has been in operation since 1913, and continues to serve the San Luis Valley agricultural region in south-central Colorado. That valley marks the headwaters of the almost-2000 mile Rio Grande river.
The raising of sugar beets helped develop the northern Colorado town of Greeley, with Union Pacific trains serving a sugar industry. The former Union Pacific depot in Greeley was a stop for Amtrak’s San Francisco Zephyr until 1983. The depot was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993.
A subsidiary of Kansas Pacific, the Arkansas Valley Railway was intended to be a southward extension of the line that first connected Kansas City, Kansas, and Denver in 1870. The Arkansas Valley line was to reach across eastern Colorado to Pueblo but would only reach La Junta. The railway ceased operations in 1877 and has the distinction of being the first track in Colorado to be abandoned and dismantled. A historic marker for the line can be found near the town of Kit Carson, a 2-hour drive east of Colorado Springs.
Colorado Rail Annual No. 32 runs 220 pages and includes both color and black-and-white images throughout the text. Ordering information can be found via the Colorado Railroad Museum link CORail32.
(Copyright – Chad Beharriell)