Transportation (HMXOS)

Location: Golden, CO 80401 Jefferson County
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Country: United States of America
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N 39° 45.403', W 105° 13.354'

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In 1860, Col. Thomas W. Know, a famous traveler and editor of the Western Mountaineer newspaper, believed the route up Clear Creek Canyon was a place he "never expected to see a mule go who had his senses, or a decent regard for his neck." When he returned to Golden in 1877, and then journeyed up the canyon by Colorado Central Railroad, Mr. Knox marveled at what progress had occurred. Clear Creek Canyon provided a transportation link to the mining towns upstream enabling Golden City's industries to be supplied with raw materials from the mines. The railroad also allowed Golden City to act as a supply point for food, equipment, and finished goods to the mountain towns. Through the years, this route has made for an economic and often political alliance between all of these communities. Today, sightseers and gamblers commute on the Clear Creek Canyon highway, continuing the tradition of economic linkage.

The history of the development of the transport route has three phases: wagon road, rail line, and finally a U.S. Highway. This history begins in 1860 when William A.H. Loveland headed the drive to build a wagon road through Clear Creek canyon. By 1872, he laid a rail line over the route, the first narrow gauge railroad in the Rocky Mountains. Loveland's was a newer type of railroad; a smaller version from the standard gauge track which derives from the measurements of ancient Roman chariots. Trains made the change in Golden from standard gauge, used in the flat prairies to the east, to the narrow gauge used through mountain passes. The railroad builders conquered the steep and winding slopes, even the infamous "Toughcuss" narrows. The railroad greatly improved the economy of the region by allowing larger loads and faster transport between mining towns and communities on the plains.

During the 1930s, the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a federal construction program designed to employ jobless workers, built the automobile highway through Clear Creek Canyon. U.S. Highway 6, replacing the old rail line, now allows tourists and truckers an easy and scenic access to the mountains.

Background photo: The Denver and Intermountain Railroad, electric Interurban trolley car #818 in Golden, circa 1941. Courtesy Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

Series This marker is part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) projects series
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Monday, September 8th, 2014 at 6:26am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)13S E 480934 N 4400779
Decimal Degrees39.75671667, -105.22256667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 45.403', W 105° 13.354'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 45' 24.18" N, 105° 13' 21.24" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)303, 720
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 1054-1098 Washington Ave, Golden CO 80401, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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