WELCOME  TO
CRAIN'S RAILROAD PAGES

 
                 
   Railway Pages Index


Colorado Narrow Gauge Circle Tour
Part 3: Canon City - Royal Gorge

Originally part of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad’s narrow gauge mainline from Pueblo westward to Salida, Leadville, and ultimately Salt Lake City, the Royal Gorge Route was the logo for D&RG advertising for years. It was converted to standard gauge in 1893 and is famous for its hanging bridge that allowed the track to follow the Arkansas River through the narrow 30 foot wide canyon.

Here the canyon is 1000 feet deep with near vertical walls. The hanging bridge was built in 1878 by the Santa Fe and inherited by the D&RG in 1880 after the “Treaty of Boston” gave the route to the D&RG. It has been strengthened several times but retains its original design to this day. The route was washed out on numerois occasions over the years, even in recent times.
 

The last D&RGW passenger train through the Gorge was run in 1967. The Royal Gorge Route Railroad opened for passenger traffic in 1999. It departs from Cañon City (southwest of Colorado Springs) and is strictly a tourist attraction on standard gauge, using ex Canadian VIA Rail passenger cars still sporting their original CN roster numbers.
Some cars have the roof and sides cut off between the undisturbed vestibules to make open-air excursion cars. You can touch the rock walls of the canyon if you are dumb enough to want to do so. Watch for white-water rafters on the river. A Vista Dome and a parlour car, Sunshine Falls, have been added to the roster since my 2004 trip.

The train has a vintage diesel at both ends and, believe it or not, is controlled by Santa Fe RR CTC in Omaha. The ride is out and back in about 2 hours. You have to use your imagination a bit to visualize what this trip must have been like in the early days of the narrow gauge.


SCENES ALONG THE ROUTE

_

_

_

_

_

_

_

 

Websites of Interest
http://www.royalgorgeroute.com/

Continue to Part Four