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South Park Line LogoThe Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad. Formed on October 1, 1872, it would be over 1 1/2 years later until the railroad would drive a spike into its first wooden tie on May 18, 1874. This was a business venture not limited to the state of Colorado; aspirations included reaching the Pacific Coast, some 1000 miles (1610 km) distant.

In Platte Canyon
The DSP&P started from Denver, worked its way westward through the canyon formed by the South Platte River, climbed up and over Kenosha Pass, and then across the Great South Park to Como.
Looking downgrade at Foxton
In Como the line split: one segment headed for central Colorado via Trout Creek Pass, Nathrop, and Chalk Creek. Then came the famed and troublesome Alpine Tunnel. The final leg ran downhill along Quartz Creek into Gunnison in anticipation of lucrative revenues from tourism, cattle ranches and mining.
Kenosha Hill Summit
The other segment, whose route was equally difficult, left Como and proceeded up and over Boreas Pass and on to Breckenridge.
Denver Union Station
Leadville was next, reached by a winding, circuitious route that crossed the Continental Divide not once but twice.

Yes, the intended destinations of Gunnison and Leadville were reached but their effort to be the first railroad to arrive at either destination was ultimately a failure - the Rio Grande's track crews were the first to reach both Gunnison and Leadville.

Exiting Platte Canyon
After a period of local control, the South Park Line came under Union Pacific control in 1881. The UP had little interest in its Colorado narrow gauge lines, save as feeders to the main system.
At Red Rocks Park
Reorganized in 1889 as the Denver, Leadville and Gunnison, the line returned to local (non-UP) management in the early 1890s. In 1899 the former UP-controlled narrow gauge lines were consolidated as the Colorado and Southern Railway, a corporate banner endured to the end. With rare exceptions the last narrow gauge rails of the South Park Line remained in place until 1943. Yes, the line lives on today in countless photographs, carefully researched books and other publications.

*405-27 - Colorado Railroad Museum Collection; Denver Water Board Photograph
*X-18854 - Denver Public Library, Western History Collection; Unknown Photographer
*OP-6241 - Denver Public Library, Western History Collection; Photograph by Otto Perry, 1894-1970

Chappell, Richardson & Hauck, Colorado Rail Annual No. 12, Colorado Railroad Museum, Golden, CO, 1974
Ferrell, Mallory Hope, The South Park Line, Hundman Publishing, Inc., Mukilteo, WA, 2003

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