Marker Logo HMdb.org THE HISTORICAL
MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Gunnison in Gunnison County, Colorado — The American Mountains (Southwest)
 

Two Great Trains

 
 
Two Great Trains Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., October 11, 2020
1. Two Great Trains Marker
Inscription.  

Thunder in the Black Canyon
The Black Canyon thwarted explorer John W. Gunnison, and years later railroad engineers declared it impassable. But General William Jackson Palmer, president of the Denver & Rio Grande Railway, believed his men could do the impossible. In January 1881 surveyors were lowered by ropes down the half-mile-deep chasm. By summer 1,000 men labored to defeat the canyon's darkness and danger. A year later, on August 13, 1882, a Rio Grande train rolled through the canyon, passing Chipeta Falls and the famed Curecanti Needle on its way to the new end-of-track town of Cimarron. Once again Palmer's men had battled against nature—and won.

The Alpine Tunnel
It would be one of the world's toughest one-third mile of railroad track. In the race against the Denver & Rio Grande Railway to reach Gunnison, the Denver, South Park & Pacific Railroad gambled that a tunnel through the Continental Divide at Altman Pass (present Alpine Pass), twenty-nine miles northeast of here, would give the edge for victory. Work began in January 1880, but the 11,500-foot elevation, subzero temperatures, and crumbling

Two Great Trains Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., October 11, 2020
2. Two Great Trains Marker
Far right marker
rock slowed construction. Not until September 1882 did Denver, South Park & Pacific trains roll through the 1,772-foot tunnel and into Gunnison—a year later than its rival. Still, it is remarkable that the tunnel was completed at all, and that it was completed with an engineering error of less than one foot is astounding.

[Photo captions, clockwise from top left, read]
• The Denver, Leadville & Gunnison Railroad (formerly the Denver, South Park & Pacific) at the Palisades, on the west side of the Alpine Tunnel, 1890s.

• William Jackson Palmer, president of the Denver & Rio Grande Railway, and known as the "Rebel of the Rockiers" for his determination to build a railroad through the Rockies.

• Interior of the Alpine Tunnel, on the Denver, South Park & Pacific Railroad.

• Curecanti Needle, a landmark for Denver & Rio Grande train travelers in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.
 
Erected 1996 by Colorado Historical Society and Colorado Dept of Transportation.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: EnvironmentExplorationIndustry & CommerceRailroads & Streetcars.
 
Location. 38° 32.675′ N, 106° 55.27′ W. Marker is in Gunnison, Colorado, in Gunnison County. Marker

Paid Advertisement
Click on the ad for more information.
Please report objectionable advertising to the Editor.
is on Tomichi Avenue (U.S. 50) east of Teller Street, on the left when traveling east. Marker is adjacent to the Gunnison County Visitor Center. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 500 East Tomichi Avenue, Gunnison CO 81230, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. King Coal (here, next to this marker); Ho For The Gunnison! (here, next to this marker); Gunnison Country (here, next to this marker); The World's Largest Collegiate Emblem! (a few steps from this marker); Bruce-Frew American Legion Post No. 54 Hut and History (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Middle East [Desert Storm] War Memorial (about 500 feet away); Vietnam War Memorial (about 500 feet away); POW/MIA Memorial (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Gunnison.
 
Also see . . .
1. William Jackson Palmer (Colorado Encyclopedia). (Submitted on October 26, 2020, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. D&RGW Corporate History. (Submitted on October 26, 2020, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
3. Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad. (Submitted on October 26, 2020, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
4. Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad at Wikipedia. (Submitted on October 26, 2020, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
5. The curse of Alpine Ill conceived and ill fated,... (Brewer). (Submitted on October 26, 2020, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
6. Historic Cimarron. (Submitted on October 26, 2020, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
Paid Advertisement
Click on the ad for more information.
Please report objectionable advertising to the Editor.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on October 26, 2020. It was originally submitted on October 26, 2020, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 56 times since then and 2 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on October 26, 2020, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
Paid Advertisement
Mar. 3, 2021