Wagon Wheel Gap Route
Denver & Rio Grande Railway
Welcome to the Wagon Wheel Gap Route web site. This site covers the re-birth of the both the name Denver & Rio Grande Railway and the historic rail-line along the upper Rio Grande River that this railroad was named after. Additional coverage of the many railroads in San Luis Valley of Southern Colorado and many other railroads in Colorado are featured. This coverage is expanding on a monthly basis...
Also see our History of San Luis Valley and it's Railroads web site: Wagon-Wheel-Gap.freehomepage.com
Welcome to our friends from across the Pacific and Atlantic Ponds.. We have had inquiries from Japan, Australia, New Zealand, England, Germany, Poland, and our neighbors from up north, Canada, also many other places around the globe. We have met many of you along the rail lines here in Colorado and look forward to your return. Please feel free to write and request information, photos or what ever you desire. If you need help planning a trip over here, I would be glad to help by supplying information. Also please write and let me know who you are. Thanks
Steam Power for Wagon Wheel Gap Route
During the evening twilight hours of March 19th 2005, Engineer Matt Cutter eased a train consisting of three D&RGW Box Cars, two D&RGW Flangers, a D&RGW Gondola, the D&RGW #01423 Caboose and two flat cars carrying a ALCO Light Pacific Steam Locomotive, into the train yard of Monte Vista, Colorado, thus concluding a 1,800 mile trip from Travers City, Mi. for this engine. It now sits on the Foundation's spur track next to its Headquarters.
This locomotive's trip actually started in ALCO Shops in 1920 when it was completed and sent to The Florida East Coast Railway. There it took passengers out of Miami up and down the Florida coast all the way to Key West. Sold in the 1940's to United States Sugar Co., where it saw service at both the Pahokee and Clewiston plants of that company. It worked that job until the 1950's when diesel power replaced it. A quiet few years fell on this proud locomotive until it was put back into service on a New Jersey tourist train.
Purchased in the 1980's and moved to Michigan, it awaited renovation which was started a few years ago but never completed, that is where it was privately purchased for use on the WWGR.... An exciting new chapter now starts for this engine...
What is he looking at ????
Jump over to La Veta Pass page and find out.....
See the new photo sections on :
La Veta Pass, Royal Gorge Route, Durango-Silverton, Georgetown Loop, Cumbres & Toltec S.R.R.
North of Durango looking east toward Wagon Wheel Gap.
Far mountains are 100 miles away, 12,000 to 14,000 ft. Peaks abound as far as you can see..
Can you see why they call them the Rocky Mountains ?
I took this from a 1947 Luscombe at 15,000 ft plus.. Yes it was cold.... -20 deg...
more to come....
WELCOME RETURNING GUESTS-
We plan to update this site weekly, so check out all the new stuff, like our steam section, photos and latest news. In addition we have added an all new video section to show you the line from South Fork to Creede.
Foundation Offices Have Moved.....
Please note that the Denver and Rio Grande Historical Foundation Headquarters has moved from Durango, Colorado to Monte Vista, Colorado.
New address is 20 North Broadway, Monte Vista 81144. New Telephone is 719-852-7000 and Fax is 719-852-5533. Please stop by if you are in the area...
Rail Line into Creede
As many of you know there has been a law suit against the Foundation by the ex-Mayor B.J. Myers & a few citizens in Creede attempting to overturn the rail line purchase by the Foundation from Union Pacific. This suit has been going on for over three years and has drained the foundation of tens of thousands of dollars that was needed to be put into the rebuild of the line not into lawyers pockets. This case was carried through local courts, to federal courts and into the Surface Transportation Board ( STB ).
May 3, 2005 - Latest STB Ruling:
The STB ( Surface Transportation Board ) Ruled totally in favor of the Foundation and rejects all of the false claims presented by the few around Creede that filed this suit.
The text of the rulings are in the Information - News section.
This site is designed to give you an idea of what we desire to preserve for future generations. Let's begin with a little history of this very famous railroad-
HISTORY of the Denver & Rio Grande Railway - Wagon Wheel Branch.
In the 1880's, the Denver and Rio Grande Railway was in a building frenzy throughout Colorado. One of the most beautiful areas was on the headwaters of the Rio Grande River at a mountain pass known as Wagon Wheel Gap. Hot springs in this area, as well as the cool summers at its 8,500 foot elevation, made it a perfect resort area for the friends and guests of General William Jackson Palmer, president of the railroad. A rail line was extended to this spot from the end of the line in Del Norte. With mining demands high, the line was extended to the mountain mining town of Creede a few years later. This line was active through 1985 when the last few cars of ore were carried out. The line that carried hundreds of thousands of passengers and millions of dollars worth of silver ore fell quiet.
Roll forward to the Spring of 2000 when the Denver & Rio Grande Historical Foundation purchased this 21.6 mile line of scenic mountain meadows, rivers and 1,000 foot cliffs. This area is well known for its scenic vistas, historic towns and mines, fishing, hunting and just a wonderful get-away-from-it-all place.
The Line has been cleaned of brush, small trees and rocks. Ties and rails are being placed where needed. Despite being a volunteer group, spectacular progress has been made. With 9 Work sessions of cleanup, All 21.6 miles have been opened with hand tools, a small tractor and a Fairmont Speeder. As of July 20th 2001 the Foundation has opened the line from South Fork to Creede (149 Hwy crossing) for motorcar and maintenance equipment. We are now down to replacing a few pieces of rail and clearing out the Creede yard to have the full line open. This leaves us just less than a mile to go. Major tie replacement will begin once track inspectors have a chance to inspect the whole line. We hope this repair work will be completed by the fall months of the 2006 , thus allowing full sized steam and diesel powered trains open access to all 21.6 miles of the best Standard Gauge Scenic Rail in the West, The Wagon Wheel Gap Route.......
Future plans provide for the return of steam power and a turn of the century look to all right-of-way improvements. Addition of a third rail will return the railroad back to its original configuration at the turn of the century of both Narrow Gauge and Standard Gauge, giving the public the only major railroad in the US with a three rail set-up.
Main Stations will be at South Fork and Creede with full services offered and additional flag stop stations along the way will service fishermen, campers, and hikers on an as-needed basis. The line is also set up as a common carrier line which will allow freight service. Check out the equipment page to see equipment that will be or is already operating on the line and the Latest News section for progress reports.
Just one of the isolated stretches through the Aspens
First Piece of Equipment to run here in 15 years.....
Matt Cutter on tractor continues clearing.........
If you are in the Southern Colorado area please stop on by: Monte Vista is located in the middle of San Luis Valley (7,600 ft elevation), surrounded by 13 to 14,000 ft peaks, lots of camping, hiking, skiing and sightseeing to keep you busy. Combres & Toltec Narrow Gauge Railroad is just south and Durango Silverton Railroad is 150 miles west. From Denver go south 160 miles to Walsenburg; take Hwy 160 West 90 miles.
From Albuquerque go north to Santa Fe then to Hwy 285 North, a total of 220 miles. The Wagon Wheel Gap Route Rail Line is located 30 miles west of Monte Vista.
See our Photo Pages and Equipment Section.....
Connect to our Friends
A ride you will not forget + Dinner trains etc... Royal Gorge Route in Canon City, Colorado Just north of us ...http://www.RoyalGorgeRoute.com <- Click Here to Enter Now..
Make sure you keep up to date with our Narrow Gauge Friends at the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, by jumping over to their web site at: www.CumbresToltecShops.com - Information and Many Great Photos
and www.CumbresToltec.com - Ticket Information
and www.CumbresToltec.org - Volunteer Group
and http://ChamaChooChoo.com/ - Featuring the Chama end of the line <- Click any red link to Enter Now..
A note about safety on the line....
We encourage all to lend a hand rebuilding and running this rail line but help must be organized and accomplished under the control of the management of the foundation. Persons showing up and working without notice on the rail line can result in trespass charges and arrest by the local Sheriff. We have organized work days and these are usually listed on this web site. Please contact us first before venturing out on the line .As to privately owned speeders and other rail equipment: this is Not Allowed.... Check for national clubs that organize these meets and have proper insurance coverage. The local Sheriff will impound any and all unauthorized equipment found on the line and cite all trespassing parties......
Web Site E-Mail Address is Wagon-Wheel-Gap@hotmail.com
Also see our History of San Luis Valley & it's Railroads web site:
It's still under construction but you may find it interesting.
This is not an official web site of the D&RG Ry. Historical Foundation.
It is a private informational site by Richard Cutter who is solely responsible for content and
content is not submitted to, approved nor controlled by the D&RG Historical Foundation.
Unless otherwise Noted
Historical Photographs 1800's to 1940's from the National Archives
Photos, Videos and Text are Copyrighted by Richard Cutter
- Photos can be used for non-commercial use if plainly identified as to copyright holder and location, such as "at Wagon-Wheel-Gap-Route, Colorado"
The name "Wagon Wheel Gap Route" refers to the section of the Creede Branch of the Old "Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad" that extends from South Fork to Creede Colorado, the name was developed and used for this website and is considered as our trademark.
Last updated: July 03, 2005
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