Since 1998, the passenger train, now known as the Royal Gorge Route Railroad, has been resurrected to create a unique tourism experience. But the life of this grand rail line goes back much further than that.
The beginning of the railroad: In the late 1870’s minors embarked on a journey west in search of lead and silver. Feverish mining activity in the area gained attention from both the Denver & Rio Grande and the Santa Fe railroads. Both crews battled for control over a region rich in resources and continued building tracks, each trying to establish their primacy to the right of way. This led to an all out railroad war in the old west and an injunction from a local court restraining the Santa Fe from operating the D&RG in June 1879, sparked an armed retaking of their railroad by D&RG crews. A final peace in the war came with the “Treaty of Boston” after the intervention of the Federal courts. which settled all litigation, and gave the D&RG control of the railroad.
The beginning of passenger services: The first passenger train arrived at Salida in 1880 and in 1882 the Royal Gorge route became a transcontinental rail link between Denver and Salt Lake. During the 1890’s, four transcontinental passenger trains a day passed through the Royal Gorge.