The History of Granby and Grand County…Rails and Skis
The promise of the railroad was always big news in Grand County, but it wasn’t until the 1900’s that the promise became reality. The main reason for this delay in service wasn’t so much the terrain that had to be negotiated to cross the Continental Divide as it was the lack of a sufficient revenue source in Middle Park to sustain a railroad.
The first train of David Moffat’s Denver North West & Pacific Railroad reached Hot Sulphur Springs on September 15, 1904. The rail crossed the divide over Rollins Pass which receives the greatest snowfall in Colorado during the winter months. It was not uncommon for cattle to be frozen and passengers to be accommodated in the small town of Arrow while the trains were dug out of the snow by volunteers from Middle Park. As a result of the D.N.W.&P., the town of Granby was platted in 1905. Moffat’s road reached Kremmling by the end of June, 1906. Construction of the Moffat Tunnel began in 1923, took four years and $40,000,000 to complete the six mile long tunnel. This tunnel also carries Fraser Valley water to the eastern slope.
From 1905 to 1908 the Rocky Mountain Railway Company moved lumber from Granby to Monarch until the lumber trade gave out in Middle Park.
Skis Hit The Slopes
Skiing clubs began in Middle Park by 1921 and led a meager existence until after WWII when increasing population aided development of ski resorts.
Winter Park ski resort was developed by the Denver Water Department in the 1930’s as part of Denver’s trans-mountain diversion projects (Moffat Tunnel). It is the largest municipally-owned ski area in America. The Rio Grande Railroad’s California Zephyr began in 1948 allowed tourists to view the beauty of Middle Park from the domed cars, many returned in the winter to ski. Winter Park and Granby were regular stops for the Zephyr on its journey between Denver and Salt Lake City.