THIRTY VS ONE
Dave Moffat's engineers had to employ a total of 56 tunnels in the Moffat Line's original construction, including the original line over Corona (but not including the Moffat Tunnel and two tunnels on the Dotsero Cutoff, which came later). Over half of these tunnels were necessary just to reach the Divide. As mentioned in the previous chapter, these multiple Front Range tunnels were built after the originally planned Coal Creek Canyon tunnel was deemed incompatible with maintaining a reasonable 2 percent ascending grade into the Rocky Mountains' Front Range.

Instead, after climbing out of the mouth of Coal Creek Canyon, the Moffat's route today runs through a series of 27 tunnels (originally 30 including #9 which was daylighted during construction, "1st" #17 daylighted during construction but its number reused, and Tunnel 28 daylighted account falling rock in 1951), in only 13 miles and originally totaling over 3 miles (16,124 feet) in length, VS the single 6,000 foot Coal Creek Canyon tunnel, to maintain the 2 percent grade. The tunnels range in length from the 78 foot number 29 to 1730 foot 17, the longest on the entire Moffat Line, save for the Moffat Tunnel itself.

From Tunnel 1 to Tunnel 8, the Moffat travels northward along the ramparts of the Front Range, until the rails turn west again to follow the water-cut passage of South Boulder Canyon for 10 miles through 19 more tunnels before the canyon opens up at the little community of Pinecliffe, just past Tunnel 29.

In a way, the entire Moffat is one big "Tunnel District." Tunnel 30 is in the canyon between Pinecliffe and Rollinsville (but not counted as part of the Tunnel District), and Tunnels 31, 32 and 33 are on the old line over Corona Pass. On the western slope of the Divide between Tabernash and Granby in Fraser Canyon is Tunnel 34. 40 plus miles further west between Kremmling and Bond in the deep recesses of Gore canyon are Tunnels 35 to 42 (41 was daylighted due to falling rock in 1952). There are 13 more tunnels on the Craig branch, numbers 43-55; and two, the "Yarmony" and the "Sweetwater," on the Dotsero Cutoff.


Plain siding, between Tunnels 1 and 2.


The steep ramparts of the Front Range presented a rugged challenge for the railroad to conquer, and probably nowhere is this as dramatically evident as seen here at Tunnel 3, with a loaded coal train with pushers for dynamic braking help in November 1981.




Tunnels 3 and 4.


Trains gain 2 miles of open running past Crescent siding between Tunnels 18 and 19.





Tunnel 20, westbound Tunnel 21 is just behind the photographer.


Tunnel 27 typifies the ruggedness of the route chosen by Dave Moffat!

(LEFT) The lighter colored section of rock wall above this Rio Grande Zephyr is the scar of 124 foot Tunnel 28, daylighted in 1951
due to problems with falling rock.  (RIGHT) 10 years later, the Zephyr's replacement, Amtrak's California Zephyr, is only 1/3rd mile
past the site of 28, as it heads into Tunnel 29, at 78 feet the shortest in the Tunnel District.



Westbound, Cliff siding, at Pinecliffe.




Eastbound, Pinecliffe.


East Rollins in Rollinsville, about 3/4 mile west of Tunnel 30 back in South Boulder canyon.



Loop Trestle over caved in Tunnel 33 ("Loop Tunnel") where the Moffat Line looped over itself
on the old line over Corona Pass.


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Hanging Ten Into the Front Range      No More Hill Hell      Canyonlands and Horseshoes
Through the Rockies in Grande Style      Union Pacific on the Moffat

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