Denver & Rio Grande Railroad's Grape Creek Branch

The Grape Creek Branch of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad was built in 1881 as a narrow gauge line between Cañon City, CO and Westcliffe, CO. (Right of way)

It ran adjacent to Grape Creek, which would be the undoing of the line. It was to compete with the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railway after that company built the grade through the Royal Gorge.

Westcliffe showed great promise as a silver mining town. Unfortunately, the grade did not. The Grape Creek was prone to flooding, and the line was washed out in 1884, just three years after the road was completed.

Image: The Old Grade of the Grape Creek Branch

It was rebuilt, only to once again be washed out in floodwater five years later. Clearly, another grade would be necessary.

The Rio Grande officially abandoned the route a year later. The company chose to rebuild a new route away from the Grape Creek, but that still serve Westcliffe. Ten years later, a standard gauge branch to serve Westcliffe was built along Texas Creek, about 13 miles west in spots.

That line would last until 1938.

Thanks as always for reading!


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