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


Transportation Marker image. Click for full size.
By Charles T. Harrell, July 4, 2011
1. Transportation Marker
Inscription. In 1860, Col. Thomas W. Know, a famous traveler and editor of the Western Mountaineer newspaper, believed the route up Clear Creek Canyon was a place he “never expected to see a mule go who had his senses, or a decent regard for his neck.” When he returned to Golden in 1877, and then journeyed up the canyon by Colorado Central Railroad, Mr. Knox marveled at what progress had occurred. Clear Creek Canyon provided a transportation link to the mining towns upstream enabling Golden City’s industries to be supplied with raw materials from the mines. The railroad also allowed Golden City to act as a supply point for food, equipment, and finished goods to the mountain towns. Through the years, this route has made for an economic and often political alliance between all of these communities. Today, sightseers and gamblers commute on the Clear Creek Canyon highway, continuing the tradition of economic linkage.

The history of the development of the transport route has three phases: wagon road, rail line, and finally a U.S. Highway. This history begins in 1860 when William A.H. Loveland headed the drive to build a wagon road through Clear Creek canyon. By 1872, he laid a rail line over the route, the first narrow gauge railroad in the Rocky Mountains. Loveland’s was a newer type of railroad; a smaller version from the standard gauge track which derives from the measurements of ancient Roman chariots. Trains made the change in Golden from standard gauge, used in the flat prairies to the east, to the narrow gauge used through mountain passes. The railroad builders conquered the steep and winding slopes, even the infamous “Toughcuss” narrows. The railroad greatly improved the economy of the region by allowing larger loads and faster transport between mining towns and communities on the plains.

During the 1930s, the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a federal construction program designed to employ jobless workers, built the automobile highway through Clear Creek Canyon. U.S. Highway 6, replacing the old rail line, now allows tourists and truckers an easy and scenic access to the mountains.

Background photo: The Denver and Intermountain Railroad, electric Interurban trolley car #818 in Golden, circa 1941. Courtesy Denver Public Library, Western History Collection
Marker series. This marker is included in the Works Progress Administration (WPA) projects marker series.
Location. 39° 45.403′ N, 105° 13.354′ W. Marker is in Golden, Colorado, in Jefferson County. Marker is on Washington Avenue Bridge, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Golden CO 80401, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Irrigation and Farming (here, next to this marker); Golden City (here, next to this marker); Native Americans on Clear Creek (here, next to this marker); The White Ash Mine Disaster (here, next to this marker); Gold (a few steps from this marker); Golden and Clear Creek (a few steps from this marker); Settler Farm Wife’s Initiative (a few steps from this marker); First Bicycle Mishap in Golden (a few steps from this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Golden.
Categories. Railroads & StreetcarsRoads & Vehicles

Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on November 27, 2011, by Charles T. Harrell of Woodford, Virginia. This page has been viewed 498 times since then and 39 times this year. Photo   1. submitted on November 27, 2011, by Charles T. Harrell of Woodford, Virginia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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