Rio Grande Junction History

Rio Grande Jct Facts
From: Rifle, CO
To: Grand Jct, CO
Miles: ~41.2
Built: 1889 (SG)
Still in service

The Rio Grande Junction Railway was a joint venture between the Colorado Midland and the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad?, set up in 1890 to build a shared railroad line between New Castle, CO?, and Grand Junction, CO. Both railroads were trying to reach Grand Junction and the Rio Grande Western's standard gauge connection to Salt Lake, and the decision was made to build one joint railway rather than two competing, parallel routes.

The last Colorado Midland train ran in 1919, but the Rio Grande Junction wasn't merged into the Denver & Rio Grande Western? until 1947.

The Colorado Midland East of Rifle

The Colorado Midland's line actually ended just west of New Castle, CO?, where it crossed from the south side of the Grand River (now the Colorado River) to the north side and connected into the D&RG's line. That point was named Gramid, a combination of GRAnde and MIDland. The CM then used trackage rights going west to reach the jointly-owned track at Rifle.

The Colorado Midland ran its last train in 1919, and subsequently was abandoned in 1921. The Rio Grande supposedly briefly operated sections of the CM near New Castle after the abandonment to serve the mines south of the river, but otherwise the rails were pulled shortly after abandonment.

The Rio Grande East of Rifle

The Rio Grande had built its own track westward from Glenwood Springs in 1889. The line crossed to the north side of the Grand River (now the Colorado River) at the site of present-day Glenwood Springs, CO?. On the north side, known as Funston, CO?, the Rio Grande had a moderately-sized yard. Rio Grande rails then proceeded west along the north side of the canyon to Newcastle and Rifle.

In 1967, the coming of Interstate 70 to Glenwood forced the Rio Grande to relocate its rails to the old Colorado Midland right-of-way on the south side between Chacra, CO?, and Glenwood Springs, CO?. The former Rio Grande grade is now buried beneath I-70, and the yards at Funston are now under the growing city of Glenwood Springs.


Including the 1967 line relocation, the route still forms a critical link in Union Pacific's ex-Rio Grande Lines. Heavy traffic still plies the route, bringing loaded coal east off of the North Fork? branch, as well as handling overhead and Amtrak traffic.

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  Last modified on January 12, 2008, at 09:34 PM
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