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The Other Moffat Tunnel

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The Water Tunnel, that helps deliver water for Denver to Gross Reservoir via South Boulder Creek.

 

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What a wonderful story. I'll think of her as I ride through the tunnel on Thursday.

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What a great memory for her. Will be thinking of her and her dad, plus all the construction workers when we go through in March. Both east and west.

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Enjoyed that video...thanks for posting!

It's too bad that you can no longer drive over the Rollins Pass auto road....I did that back in 1973, and that is the only way to really appreciate what a stunning achievement the Moffat Tunnel opening truly was....

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You can still get to the summit via car from the West. I actually watched a jeep go down the East side, 4-wheelin' it. Some years, there can be 6 feet of snow or more - in July!

Edited by VentureForth

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That old railroad was an amazing achievement in itself, with those switchbacks, trestle's, and tunnel's....and the rotary's that tried to keep it open all year...

if you ever get the chance to see it, there was a great silent MGM melodrama that depicted it, called "The White Desert".... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_White_Desert

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The original route over Rollins Pass is seen highlighted in blue on this old topographic map:

 

post-9586-0-30912400-1518983161_thumb.jpg

 

Some of the original roadbed is still visible (barely) on Google Earth.

Edited by niemi24s

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That's a great find...I'll have to dig thru my "archives" for the paper trail map and guide that the Park Service provided in a wooden box at each end of the auto road....it was a nice, mile by mile guide, with photo's, description's and historic data...a real collector's item.... :cool:

 

Here's a link to a nice video I found on the subject...

Edited by railiner

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That looks like it was quite the ride! I like the loop at Riflesight Notch. In fact, I like the sound of the loop at Riflesight Notch, too.

 

The original route over Rollins Pass is seen highlighted in blue on this old topographic map:

 

 

 

Some of the original roadbed is still visible (barely) on Google Earth.

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USGS topographic maps depicting how things were back in the olden days (some as far back as the 1880's) can be found here... https://nationalmap.gov/historical/ ...but finding the map you want is not an easy search. The first part, the state, is easy. The hard part is finding the maps "title" which is usually the most prominent feature (town or city) on the map. Adding to the difficulty is the variety of map scales.

 

It would be easy if there was a way to search by latitude and longitude, but I've never found such a search engine.

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The road follows the rail bed quite faithfully with a couple of minor changes. From where County Road 80 begins off of US-40, it progresses up just as per blue highlight in niemi24s' post. 80 takes a sharp detour to the south at the middle of the 2nd hump (near where the number 36 is. Road bypasses the Riflesight Notch loop completely with a couple of sharp switchbacks and rejoins at the top of the Riflesight Notch trestle. Then, again, it follows faithfully up to where Google Maps identifies Rollins Pass. Though the road continues past this point, and on around to Needle's Eye Tunnel, it's closed from this point. County Road 501 is a 4x4 only trail that takes you parallel to the rail bed and gets you closer to the tunnel. From the East, CR 117 comes to almost the same distance from the Tunnel on the other side. It is not in near as maintained condition as the Western side. The two sides are still not connected, and cannot be traversed by conventional means. The tunnel itself is heavily barricaded from trespassers.

 

It seems like not a huge deal to just remove the tunnel and open the road the whole way through, but no one wants to destroy the tunnel constructed in 1903. They've tried a few times to preserve the route and were successful in 1989, but closed permanently a year later.

 

It's a beautiful ride. I took a suburban and on my way back down, I just left it in 1st gear and let the truck roll down the washboard-clattery trail - almost feeling like we were riding on the old railroad ties.

 

Man, what an incredible rail journey that must have been!

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Agreed! And it is even more amazing when you take in consideration that unlike many other earlier Colorado railroads, this was standard gauge, not narrow....

 

When I drove it in 1973, it was passable the whole way....I did it in my 1972 Monte Carlo! It was "thrilling" to drive over that trestle, and through the tunnel.... :)

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Can the road be hiked from WP and how long would it take?

For sure. I'm sure many do. But if you're not acclimated to the elevation (ie: in WP for a few days), that 11,660' is pretty harsh on the body. But I would be aware of the cars. That being said, it takes about 45 minutes going around 15 mph by car, so probably 4 hours or so to hike depending on your condition.

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Can the road be hiked from WP and how long would it take?

For sure. I'm sure many do. But if you're not acclimated to the elevation (ie: in WP for a few days), that 11,660' is pretty harsh on the body. But I would be aware of the cars. That being said, it takes about 45 minutes going around 15 mph by car, so probably 4 hours or so to hike depending on your condition.

 

 

Thanks - when I was a kid we would go to Winter Park every year and the first day would always be at Idlewild to acclimatize to the altitude. I climbed an 11,900'+\- peak in Utah a few years ago without a lot of adjustment or acclimation and the climb itself was ok but the altitude did screw with me a bit. My cousin who was a smoker had a lot more trouble than me.

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USGS topographic maps depicting how things were back in the olden days (some as far back as the 1880's) can be found here... https://nationalmap.gov/historical/ ...but finding the map you want is not an easy search. The first part, the state, is easy. The hard part is finding the maps "title" which is usually the most prominent feature (town or city) on the map. Adding to the difficulty is the variety of map scales.

 

It would be easy if there was a way to search by latitude and longitude, but I've never found such a search engine.

 

This is a interactive site to look at historical USGS maps: http://historicalmaps.arcgis.com/usgs/

 

This will show all the maps available overlaid on the present day map.

 

 

Edited by DCAKen

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