D&RG / D&RGW Chrysolite Extension / Ibex Branch History

Chrysolite Extension Facts
From: Leadville, CO
To: Ibex, CO
Miles: 7.0
Built: 1898 (NG)
To 3-Rail: 1913
To SG: 1917
Abnd: 1944

The Chrysolite Extension - also referred to as the Ibex Branch - was a seven mile branch running southeast out of Leadville, CO, where it connected with the D&RG/D&RG(W)'s Leadville Branch, out to the Ibex Mine.

The branch was originally constructed as narrow gauge from Chrysolite Junction, where it split from the older Fryer Hill Branch. However, the Chrysolite Extension is typically listed in timetables as extending all the way back to the Leadville yard, approximately 0.5 miles geographically west. Over the years, the Extension served as a trunk for other small spurs and branches serving other mining interests, including the Graham Park Branch and a number of mine spurs out near the end.

The first 2.4 miles of the branch (Leadville to Graham Park Junction) were converted to dual gauge in 1913, coinciding with the conversion of the Graham Park Branch to standard gauge. The remainder of the Chrysolite Extension was converted to standard gauge and the third rail pulled up in 1917.

The entire branch was removed in 1944 as an effect of World War II. The war put a stop to most precious metal mining activity, ending traffic on the branch, and scrap rail was needed elsewhere.

As a note, the Ibex Mine had an elevation of 11,520 feet, making it the highest point ever reached by Rio Grande rails.

The Ibex Branch also crossed the C&S? line on a dual-gauge diamond at Chrysolite Junction, just northeast of the C&S roundhouse. Both directions were three rail - the C&S line because the builders anticipated eventual standard gauging, the D&RGW line because of its heritage as dual gauge.1

Chrysolite Extension Map

At some point in the future, there'll be a map here.


1 "Narrow Gauge Footprints", Trains, July 1942 p13.

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  Last modified on January 21, 2012, at 11:42 PM
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