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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Penrose in Fremont County, Colorado — The American Mountains (Southwest)
 

The Royal Gorge

 
 
The Royal Gorge Marker image. Click for full size.
By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, July 7, 2020
1. The Royal Gorge Marker
Inscription.  Royal Gorge Railroad War
Racing to lay the first tracks into the Colorado Rockies in April 1878, the Denver & Rio Grande and its rival, the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe, reached the Royal Gorge in a dead heat. Competing construction crews stared each other down at the mouth of the crucial portal while judges struggled to end the right-of-way dispute. D&RG owner William Jackson Palmer, leaving nothing to chance, armed his workers and had them sabotage the enemy's operations. The AT&SF responded in kind, sparking two years of non-lethal but costly combat. An 1880 settlement finally ended the "war,” with Palmer taking possession of the coveted gorge and all that lay beyond. Victory in hand, he set out to claim the spoils. The D&RG spent its remaining years steaming from lode to lode, a railroad in search of the next mining bonanza.

Royal Gorge Bridge
Plans to span the Royal Gorge began circulating in 1906, when Congress ceded the site to Cañon City as a public park. Local boosters conceived of the bridge strictly as a tourist attraction, not a practical means of transport. One early blueprint (quickly rejected)
The Royal Gorge Marker Detail image. Click for full size.
By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, July 7, 2020
2. The Royal Gorge Marker Detail
Although the Royal Gorge "war” played out mostly in court, blockades and other strong-arm tactics stymied the effort of both sides to build through the canyon. Here armed workers pose for a photographer, 1878. Colorado Historical Society
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even called for a plate-glass surface enabling visitors to peer straight down into the abyss. It took more than twenty years to work out a feasible, cost-effective design, but the wait was worth it. When the 1,260-foot-long structure opened in 1929, it immediately became one of Colorado's most visited sites. For all its elegance and ingenuity, the Royal Gorge Bridge remains a road to nowhere, dead-ending at the canyon's southern rim. But this dramatic span is a destination unto itself — a highway into mid-air, 1,053 dizzying feet above the Arkansas River.

Captions
Top left: Although the Royal Gorge "war” played out mostly in court, blockades and other strong-arm tactics stymied the effort of both sides to build through the canyon. Here armed workers pose for a photographer, 1878. Colorado Historical Society
Middle right: The Denver & Rio Grande promoted itself as the "Scenic Line of the World,” taking tourists (here at Hanging Bridge in 1905) through the natural beauty and engineering marvel of the Royal Gorge Canyon. Courtesy Denver Public Library, Western History Collection
Center: [No caption} Colorado Historical Society
Bottom: Below: Dedication of the Royal Gorge Bridge, December 1929 Courtesy Denver Public Library, Western History Collection
The Royal Gorge Marker Detail image. Click for full size.
By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, July 7, 2020
3. The Royal Gorge Marker Detail
The Denver & Rio Grande promoted itself as the "Scenic Line of the World,” taking tourists (here at Hanging Bridge in 1905) through the natural beauty and engineering marvel of the Royal Gorge Canyon. Courtesy Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

 
Erected 2001 by Colorado Department of Transportation; Colorado Historical Society.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Bridges & ViaductsIndustry & CommerceRailroads & Streetcars. A significant historical month for this entry is April 1878.
 
Location. 38° 26.197′ N, 105° 6.578′ W. Marker is near Penrose, Colorado, in Fremont County. Marker is on U.S. 50 0.2 miles east of Phantom Canyon Road (County Road 67), on the right when traveling west. Marker is in pullout across from Fremont County Airport. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Penrose CO 81240, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Arkansas Valley Country (here, next to this marker); Corrections Capital (here, next to this marker); Arkansas River Valley (here, next to this marker); Lt. Zebulon Pike's Southwestern Expedition (approx. 3.1 miles away); Cramer School (approx. 3.1 miles away); James A. McCandless House (approx. 3.2 miles away); Early Agriculture & Ranching (approx. 3.2 miles away); Florence's Beginnings (approx. 3.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Penrose.
 
More about this marker. Rattlesnake activity in the area.
 
The Royal Gorge Marker Detail image. Click for full size.
By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, July 7, 2020
4. The Royal Gorge Marker Detail
Dedication of the Royal Gorge Bridge, December 1929 Courtesy Denver Public Library, Western History Collection
The Royal Gorge Marker image. Click for full size.
By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, July 7, 2020
5. The Royal Gorge Marker
Subject marker is behind the marker on the right. A far shot was not attempted because of rattlesnakes in the area.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on July 20, 2020. It was originally submitted on July 17, 2020, by Duane Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 56 times since then and 2 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on July 17, 2020, by Duane Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.
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Mar. 9, 2021