The Roaring Fork Valley's
coal fields sparked a war of expansion between two railroads: the Denver and the Rio Grande Railroad and the Colorado Midland Railroad. In 1886 the Colorado Midland proposed building a line to Aspen.
Knowing that its economic survival
depended upon the profits generated by mining, the Denver and Rio Grande could not pass on building a line to Aspen. The race to the Roaring Fork Valley was on.
The Denver and Rio Grande
chose to expand its line from Red Cliff, westward through Glenwood Canyon, to Glenwood Springs. On October 5, 1887, townspeople turned out in droves to watch crews drive the last spike into the connecting rails.
and down the Frying Pan and Roaring Fork rivers, the tracks of the Colorado Midland Railway reached Glenwood Springs December 9, 1887.
The Social changes
brought by the railroads were dramatic. Stage coach lines became obsolete almost overnight. The telegraph lines that came with the railroads provided faster communication to the rest of the country.
In the end,
the Denver and Rio Grande outlasted the Colorado Midland. However, their race for railway supremacy forever transformed the community.
The introduction of so powerful an agent as steam to a carriage on
wheels will make a great change in the situation of man. Thomas Jefferson, 1802
Top left: The first Denver and Rio Grande train arrived in Glenwood Springs with much celebration.
Bottom left: The original D&RG train depot at 7th and Pitkin.