Railroad History of Fremont County
Coal Camp Spurs – Deyon Boughton
Deyon Boughton explained how in the mid 1800’s developers discovered Florence along a likely path
from the New World to the Wild West; and railroads were inching along the way. Coal Creek, south of Florence opened the Southfield coal. Mine workers from every country were young pioneers searching to make a living, some alone, some with families, some with wives waiting for them back home.
From Lebran to 175 sites that revealed coal layers, tipples grew like mushrooms, village’s developed like
ant hills and spurs moved from likely mine to likely mine. Not only coal but gold, silver, quartz wood and brick became possible rail spurs. From the deepest mine, Cedar Canyon (1087’) to the Corley strip mine, to the narrow gorge, west of Canon City on the Arkansas River, mining towns left their mark. Radiant, for example became a 1930’s depression CCC town and caring for unemployed and hungry young men.
You can only imagine the industrial roar of Florence as the 12 rail companies struggled to lay their lines,
working/fighting to haul coal, oil, cattle, and wood. The rail spurs are telling their story.
Royal Gorge Railroad Wars – Melvina Benham
Melvena Benham reminded us of the Royal Gorge Railroad War which was fought over the Grand Canyon of the Arkansas River also known as the Royal Gorge. The Gorge which is approximately 10 miles long, with granite wall 1, 250 feet high, 30 feet wide at its narrowest point, through which the Arkansas River tumbles and is one of the longest rivers in the country. By 1878 the Denver and Rio Grande and the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe railroad were competing for the trade in Southern and Western Colorado. These railroad companies went to war over the right of way through the Royal Gorge.
Most of their fighting was done by their attorneys through the Court system all the way to the Supreme Court. Most of the Courts ruled against the Denver and Rio Grande. However, on April 21, 1879 The United State Supreme Court rendered a decision and advanced the opinion the Denver and Rio Grande had prior right of way. The Rio Grande had to assume all road built by its opponent at a fair and equitable price. This necessitated negotiation between the two railroads eventually bring about the Boston Treaty where both sides agreed to end the Royal Gorge War.
Railroad History of Fremont County additional presentations
Introduction at Senior College, – Marty Lamm (Pioneer Museum)
Horrifying and Heartwarming by Martie LaCasseParagraph
Depots of Western Fremont County by Carol McNew
Depots of Eastern Fremont County by Dorothy Cool
Refineries & Smelters by Gayle MacKinnon (Pioneer Museum)
Colorado Importance and Impact by Margaret Stiles Storm