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  • Topic: Colorado, Rio Grande, Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad
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4.) Railroads development was a key to the revitalization of Colorado in the course of 1870’s. Who were the key players in this, what were the key lines, and how and why did the railroads rekindle and foster the territory’s growth?

Railroad development in the 1870’s
Before the railroads were established in the 1870’s, people traveled by wagon, horse and on foot. They traveled for days and months to reach their destinations, some did not survive the trip. When the Pike’s Peak Gold rush was hopping they had to travel by foot or wagon to deliver their found treasures to the nearest railroads. As the gold rush was ending so was the population in the lands. (Pueblo population in 1870 was 500 before the railroad after, over 3,500; Wood, p.84)

The railroad started as a narrow gauge line running south from Denver to Salt Lake City Utah. The (D&RG) Denver and Rio Grande Railway was built on October 27, 1870 by General William Jackson Palmer and four other directors. It was originally supposed to travel 875 miles from south Denver to south El Paso via Pueblo, westward along the Arkansas River and continue southward through the San Luis Valley of Colorado toward the Rio Grande River (D&RG). On July 28, 1871, the first narrow gauge rails were laid out. Narrow gauge was chosen because it was cheaper and thought to have an advantage in the mountain reigns.

General William Jackson Palmer was the founder of Colorado Springs and the D&RGR (Tom). William and his partners bought over 10,000 acres of land in in was once called “Colorado City” now it is called Colorado Springs. He wanted this land to build a city of his own. A city that was clean and free from saloons and gambling. William Palmer and his wife Queen Mellen were very educated people. They wanted to create great schools and the finest of educations.
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