Denver & Rio Grande Western [Southern Pacific]
Colorado (Moffat Tunnel)
June 8, 1996

The Moffat Tunnel has an involved and fascinating history. Originally planned as part of David Moffat's proposed road to connect Denver with Salt Lake City by heading directly west into the Rockies, it was never built during Moffat's lifetime (he died in 1911) and was "temporarily" bypassed by a terrifying line over Corona Pass, featuring 4-1/2 percent grades and a healthy helping of blizzards.

In 1914 Denver boosters attempted to sell bonds to finance a tunnel through James Peak, bypassing the Corona Pass line, but were defeated in the courts. After several more failed attempts, Denver representatives in the Colorado legislature managed to attach funding to a bill providing flood relief for Pueblo, and in 1922 construction began. The tunnel was "holed" through on July 7, 1927, leading to the final abandonment of the Corona Pass line, but still leaving Moffat's road, the Denver & Salt Lake, as a "road to nowhere" ("nowhere" being Steamboat Springs and some coal mines in Craig, Colorado where the line ended). The D&SL was finally merged into the D&RGW in 1947.

This page posted 9/1/2017; revised 1/1/2019. Text and photo ©2017 Lamont Downs.