Moffat Road Railroad Museum Town of Arrow around 1905
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town of Arrow around 1905, with the left track heading westward, photo courtesy of Kalmbach Books

 

Museum kickoff project - 1905 Passenger Car restoration

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Moffat Road History

Passengers around 1910 enjoyed the sight of the 30-foot drifts at Corona
Passengers around 1910 enjoyed the sight of the 30-foot drifts at Corona on a day when the rotary had been through first, photo courtesy of Kalmbach Books. Click photo for enlargement

David Halliday Moffat, youngest of 9, born 1839 in Washingtonville, NY came to Denver March 18th, 1860. He operated Woolworth and Moffat Dry Goods Store, became Post Master, and was the Adjunct General of the Colorado Territories 1861.

In 1881 he became the president of the First National Bank, and then the President of the Denver Rio Grande Railroad. David Moffat built the narrow gauge "Denver and Pacific Railroad" that ran from Denver to Cheyenne, Wyoming. He owned over 100 gold and silver mines and the railroads that serviced them. He had more wealth than most, valued at 25 million dollars.

In 1904, he started building the "Denver Northwestern & Pacific Railroad" - the highest standard gauge railroad ever built in the United States.

Map detail of "The Hill" on the Moffat Road Railroad
Map detail of "The Hill" - the toughest stretch along the Moffat Road Railroad, which included climbing Rollins Pass, photo courtesy of Kalmbach Books. Click photo for enlargement

The railroad went from Utah Junction (Denver) over Rollins Pass (11,660 feet above sea level) through the Grand Valley and terminated in Craig, Colorado. Moffat originally planned the railroad to go all the way to Salt Lake City, but when he died and the financing evaporated, the line ended up terminating at Craig. Click here to view maps of the Moffat Road.

The "Moffat Road" was intended to put Denver on a transcontinental railroad but that didn't happen until 1928 when the Moffat Tunnel (6.2 miles long - the third longest in the country) was finished. That was 17 years after David Moffat had died.

At Tabernash in 1949
At Tabernash in 1949, photo courtesy of Kalmbach Books. Click photo for enlargement

Resource Books
For more information reference these books:
The Giants Ladder by Harold Boner
Rails that Climb by Edward Bollinger
Denver Northwestern & Pacific by P.R. "Bob" Griswold

Resource Links
The Moffat Road - www.grandcountyhistory.com
The Moffat Route - www.ghostdepot.com
Colorado Historical Society - www.coloradohistory.org
Museum of Northwest Colorado - www.museumnwco.org
Denver & Salt Lake Historical Society / Rollins Pass Restoration Association - www.moffatroad.org
The Denver Library, Western History & Genealogy - www.history.denverlibrary.org
Colorado Railroad Museum - www.coloradorailroadmuseum.org
Moffat Tunnel Photograph Collection at the Colorado State Archives - www.colorado.gov

The Moffat Road is on the National Register of Historic Districts.

Moffat Road Railroad Museum | Grand County Model Railroad Club | PO Box 2221, Granby, CO 80446 | 970.887.9478 | info@moffatroadrailroadmuseum.org

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