Moffat Road in West Central Colorado


My essay, Why Watch Trains?


As Front Range folk sometimes tend to forget, there is a lot more to the Moffat Tunnel route than the winding right-of-way between Denver and the Moffat Tunnel. Between Granby and the Dotsero Cutoff at Bond, Union Pacific runs trains across the beautiful Grand Valley, through spectacular Gore and Byers Canyons, and alongside the mighty, rushing Colorado River.

The photos presented here are roughly ordered from west to east, with Bond and the Dotsero Cutoff on the west end and Granby on the east.


The junction at Bond. Diverging to the right is the original Denver,
Northwestern and Pacific route toward the coal mines and Craig. To the
left is the Dotsero Cutoff that connects with the Tennessee Pass line.

Looking eastward down the Colorado River valley at Bond.

Along the Dotsero Cutoff. This is the defect detector at MP 136.7.
The Colorado River Road parallels the cutoff all the way to Dotsero,
but word of flooding due to heavy thunderstorms to the west
prevented me from making the whole trip to Dotsero.

Amtrak #6, the California Zephyr, appears from the mist just
east of Dell.

The next seven photos were taken at Radium, a beautiful location
along the Colorado River accessible by Eagle County Road 11.
Here a westbound emerges from Tunnel 42.

Helpers on the same westbound. The whine of the hoppers fills the
river valley, disturbing only a few rafters and fisherman. A train
having three distributed power units on the rear end is a somewhat unusal
occurence; one or two are more common.

The first westbound was followed by a second, SP 219 west. At about
this time I learned that the dispatcher was setting up a three way meet
at the Radium siding. The two westbounds were to take the siding to
meet an eastbound.

Since the siding was occupied by the first westbound, SP 219 held back
at the absolute signal to avoid blocking the road crossing just ahead.

To reach a higher vantage point, I climbed a rather steep hill across
the river from the tunnel. With this much power on the head end of a train
of empties, it should not be surprising that the train had no DPU.

When the eastbound finally arrived and cleared West Radium, both
westbounds began pulling and UP 7237 east appeared with a loaded coal
train. I caught up to this train several times again, as shown below.

UP 7237, from the high vantage point, is about to enter Tunnel 42.

Truly an engineering marvel, this is the entrance to the spectacular
Gore Canyon. The tracks in the canyon are visible only briefly here near
the siding at Azure. The view from inside the canyon is restricted to those
on a train or rafters/boaters on the thundering Colorado River.

Tunnel 38, a mere 100 ft long, was never "daylighted" like some
of the other shorter tunnels on the route.

Catching up again with UP 7237 in Byers Canyon, Gore Canyon's
considerably smaller neighbor. The canyon is located west
of the town of Hot Sulpher Springs.

Another view of the eastbound in Byers Canyon.

The eastbound I had been following was delayed by a meet at Flat, so I had
time to jump ahead to the town of Granby. Here an already-late Amtrak #5,
the westbound California Zephyr, is waiting on the main for the eastbound
out of Flat.

When the headlight of 7237 appeared, the engineer of #5 climbed down to
the ground for the required roll-by inspection.

After the meet, #5, with noteable P32-8BWH 507 as the third unit, took
the signal at West Granby and continued the trip toward Sacramento.

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