Denver & Rio Grande Western [Southern Pacific]
Colorado (Royal Gorge)
June 3, 1996

Today a popular tourist attraction, the Royal Gorge of the Arkansas River was for a time a priceless gateway for railroads wanting to build west from Pueblo, Colorado, resulting at one point in pitched battles between Rio Grande and Santa Fe construction crews. Ultimately the Rio Grande won, and the Royal Gorge became an essential part of its Tennessee Pass route across Colorado to Grand Junction. Ironically, with the 1997 acquisition by the Union Pacific the line now hosts little traffic other than tourist trains. This view of the Royal Gorge, with the famous automobile suspension bridge across the gorge in the center of the picture and the Rio Grande's mainline below, is looking west from the cable car ride. The buildings near the bottom of the photo mark the bottom of the incline railway and the famous "hanging bridge."

The cable car system (aerial tram) and the incline railway were later destroyed in a wildfire in June 2013, although the suspension bridge was only slightly damaged. A new gondola ride was placed into service in 2015, but the incline railway appears to be permanently out of service.

This page posted 1/1/2019. Text and photo ©2019 Lamont Downs.