Rio Grande Pictorial By McCoy & Collman 100 years of railroading thru the
Rio Grande Pictorial By McCoy & Collman 100 years of railroading thru the
Rio Grande Pictorial By McCoy & Collman 100 years of railroading thru the
Rio Grande Pictorial By McCoy & Collman 100 years of railroading thru the
Rio Grande Pictorial By McCoy & Collman 100 years of railroading thru the
Rio Grande Pictorial By McCoy & Collman 100 years of railroading thru the
Rio Grande Pictorial By McCoy & Collman 100 years of railroading thru the

Rio Grande Pictorial By McCoy & Collman 100 years of railroading thru the

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Rio Grande Pictorial By McCoy & Collman 100 years of railroading thru the
The Rio Grande Pictorial By  McCoy & Collman 100 years of railroading thru the Tockies 1871-1971 Hard Cover With PLASTIC COVERING.   Copyright 1971  216 pages
The story of building the Denver & Rio Grande Railway "thru the Rockies, not around them" is a dramatic saga of the American West. The passage of 100 years since the founding of this system does not dim the brilliance of the record achieved by its builder, General William Jackson Palmer.
"Union cavalry general, pioneer railroad builder, prophet of Colorado's greatness, he mapped the routes of three transcontinental railways, supervised the building of the first road to Denver, organized and constructed the Denver and Rio Grande Railway, stimulated the state's industries, cherished its beauties, founded Colorado Springs, fostered Colorado College and served our sister republic of Mexico with sympathy and wisdom in developing its notional railways."
This inscription on brass relief at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, and at railway stations in Denver, Salt Lake City and Mexico City, pretty well sums up the greatness of the builder of the Rio Grande.
Leaving his post as private secretary to J. Edgar Thomson, president of the Pennsylvania Railroad, William Jackson Palmer received a commission as Colonel in the Union Army in 1861. Throughout the American Civil War he served with distinction, retiring at the end of hostilities with the rank of Brevet Brigadier General. He received numerous offers to associate himself with various railway enterprises, and in August of 1865 became treasurer of the Union Pacific's Eastern Division. The name of this line was formally changed to the Kansas Pacific Railway Company on April 5, 1869, and at the same time General Palmer chose to manage construction of the road into Denver, rather than to remain in charge of the company's financial operations. Like the true empire builder he was, General Palmer was not satisfied to call his work finished when the Kansas Pacific was completed into Denver. He envisioned a trunk line from Denver to Santa Fe and El Paso -- and eventually all the way to Mexico City -- a gigantic and daring proposition which was formally inaugurated with the incorporation of the Denver & Rio Grande Railway on October 27, 1870.
The rugged, lofty Continental Divide presented a tremendous barrier to the development of transportation in Colorado, Utah and New Mexico. The blue horizon of distant peaks was a mysterious veil isolating this vast mountain country when the first trans-continental railroad followed the Overland Trail north of Colorado. Although the gold discoveries of 1858 and 1859 had lured treasure hunters, railway construction into the Rockies did not come until the 1870's when General Palmer conceived his idea of a trunk line running south from Denver. Since the projected route to El Paso and Mexico City was clearly defined along the Rio Grande del Norte (Great River of the North), it was natural that the name should indicate the initial point and some principal objective. Hence the original designation, Denver and Rio Grande.
While on his wedding trip to Britain, in 1870, General Palmer became impressed with the success of the narrow gauge railways in the British Isles. Thus came about the "baby road," with narrow gauge track (3-ft., 0-in. wide) instead of standard gauge (4-ft., 8-1/2-in. wide) -- General Palmer chosing this gauge because he would be able to speedily and economically push his railway southward.
Much of the financial support for the line came from the American East and Britain. The original iron rail weighed 30 pounds per yard and came from Sheffield, England. It little resembled the 119-pound and heavier rail used today; however, it was of better quality and less expensive than American-made rail of the period. By the time the first spike was driven on July 28, 1871, the railway's first locomotives and cars were already waiting for the event in Denver. This early equipment consisted of seven Baldwin engines, four passenger locomotives of 2-4-0 type and three freight locomotives of 2-6-0 type, weighing 25,000 to 35,000 pounds respectively. Other equipment with which the railway began operations were four-wheeled boxcars, flat cars, and combination baggage-mail passenger cars. The railway's Number 1 locomotive, the "Montezuma," was a 2-4-0 passenger engine and was used on many early passenger runs.
The track was completed to Colorado Springs by October 21, 1871, and the first official train was run on October 26. Canon City was reached in 1874 and El Moro (four miles from Trinidad) in 1876. The construction company was then ready to lay rails over Raton Pass and tap the Rio Grande Valley. But prominence of the Leadville mining district created a clamor for railway transportation which could no longer be ignored. The D&RG chose to follow the rush of men into the Rockies, and all efforts were centered on extending the line west of Canon City.
Both the Rio Grande and the Santa Fe railways were struggling for a southern outlet through Raton Pass, and for a western outlet through the Royal Gorge. By agreement, Raton Pass was left to the Santa Fe, but a clash of ambitions on the western front finally lead to the infamous "Royal Gorge War," a vivid chapter in railway history. On the same day that Rio Grande graders started work in the Royal Gorge, a local subsidiary of the Santa Fe also began construction at the same place. A hand-to-hand conflict was precipitated -- fortunately without casualties -- and three weeks later, on May 8, 1878, the U.S. Circuit Court handed down an opinion upholding the Santa Fe. However, an appeal was taken to the U.S. Supreme Court which on April 21, 1879, reversed the decision of the lower court and confirmed the rights claimed by the Denver & Rio Grande. Final settlement of the controversy came in February of 1880, when an agreement was executed prohibiting the Santa Fe, for a period of 10 years, from building west from Canon City, and prohibiting the Rio Grande, for a like period, from building south of Trinidad, or south from Espanola, New Mexico. Thus was the course of the D&RG permanently turned westward.
Once the eyes of its founders had been turned to the west, every possible location through the mountains was surveyed, and with the passage of time, the Rio Grande laid rails to almost every spot in the mountain region where mining development demanded transportation. Through it all, the spirit of high adventure lightened hardships, the romance of achievement bolstered bold courage, the empire of the Intermountain West was carved out of a territory described in the 1860's as an "impenetrable wilderness."

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