What UP Tried So Hard to Prevent, They Now Own
In 1903 when David Moffat started his Denver, Northwestern & Pacific railroad to give Denver an economical freight outlet to the west coast, he faced the challenge of building through the high Continental Divide, deemed virtually impossible by previous railroad builders. Moffat’s 4% “temporary main” line over Corona Pass before a tunnel under the Divide could be built alone almost ruined the DNW&P with its operating expense drain and loss of revenue from long winter closures. But Moffat would also have to contend with all the maneuverings, dirty tricks and spurious legal claims that opposing railroad barons, including George Gould of the Western Pacific and, especially, Edward Harriman of the Union Pacific, could throw at him to retain their monopolistic control of high Denver freight rates.

And throw they did. The DNW&P was denied access to Denver's Union Station, and had trouble securing a connection with a rail line to the west coast. Moffat was denied critically needed funds when interested investors became fearful of angering the powerful railroad and financial groups so aggressively opposed to the DNW&P. Before laying rails through a canyon, Moffat had to fight legal battles against spurious "paper" companies formed simply to gain first deed on his planned right of way. Such as in Gore Canyon where a hydro electric company was claiming the canyon for a reservoir dam. In addition, the U.S. Interior Department, at the bequest of the Los Angeles, California Chamber of Commerce, was laying claim to Gore for a reservoir for "much needed water" for California and Arizona. Other reservoir claims were being filed by the UP in the Yampa River Canyon; the federal government was making a claim on Byers Canyon; and more reservoir sites were being filed in Utah on the Moffat's projected route. On top of all this, Moffat's counter filings were all delayed when they were mysteriously "misplaced" in Washington, DC.

Although Harriman, who controlled powerful friends in the nation's capitol, could not be linked to these activities, it does seem strange that no reservoir plans had been mentioned until Moffat was building a railroad that would give severe competition to the Union Pacific. It was then learned that the hydro electric company had no actual plans to build their reservoir, plans that were especially suspect when it was discovered that Gore's bedrock was not sufficient to support the weight of a dam! Strange, too, was the fact that the Southern Pacific RR was a member of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, and the SP was owned by - guess who!?! - Harriman! It took the personal intervention in November, 1905 of the old "Trust Buster" himself, President Theodore Roosevelt, to intercede on Moffat's behalf and give Moffat the right to proceed.

Exhausted by these troubles and his multi-million dollar fortune depleted, Moffat died of a heart attack in 1911 while still trying to raise the financing to build the divide tunnel and extend the line on to Craig in northwestern Colorado to reap the profits in hauling the region's vast coal resources. But Edward Harriman had also passed on and the Moffat Line survived to see the Moffat Tunnel built with public assistance in 1928. The railroad was absorbed in 1947 by the Denver & Rio Grande Western, which became the Southern Pacific in 1988, which was bought by the Union Pacific in 1996. Creating today’s contradiction of the Moffat Line's former adversary reaping the benefits of Dave Moffat's dream.

Top photo, eastbound through the Denver suburb of Arvada.  Above, Arvada westbound.

West Leyden siding at 72nd Ave.

72nd Ave. crossing, Arvada.

West of Leyden:

Coming off Clay siding above the Big Ten.

Eastbound coal at Blue Mountain Road below Tunnel 1:

Plainview, between Tunnels 1 and 2 in the Tunnel District:

Plainview was named for the clear view east towards Denver, but not so "plain" a view today!

Crescent, between Tunnels 18 and 19 in the Tunnel District.




Moffat Tunnel:

East Portal siding.

Moffat Tunnel east portal.

Moffat Tunnel west portal.

East Fraser.

West Fraser.


Eastbound through Byers Canyon.

Westbound out of Byers Canyon.

Radium, west end of Gore Canyon.

Yarmony siding:

Eastbound coal off the Craig Branch at Bond.

Westbound on Craig Branch at Bond.


Doterso Cutoff:



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