Well…….this morning we got up to see our wonderful friends off so they could go back home. The 4 of us are still at the condo in Winter Park so as we ate lunch we tried to think of something to do together! Ahh.. haa.. as I glanced at the Guest Guide book I came across the Corona Pass Road, which is a 12-mile scenic dirt road. It says that a 2 wheel drive vehicle can access the road to the top of the 11,660 ft mountain, little did they tell you that if rain, or hail, or a small amount of snow came through that you might want to think about 4-wheel drive. That is what we encountered on this 12 mile journey.
NOTE: There are several really cool pictures…as usual, click any of the pictures here to be taken to the full album!
Hail snatched out the window by Justin
We started at the bottom off of 1-40 at 76 degrees and ended at the top of the mountain at 44 degrees. We only found out afterward that the trail we took was â€œpopular with mountain bikes and 4-wheel drive vehiclesâ€, unlike to the sign we saw at the beginning of the trail.
But…the Honda minivan can now do anything as you can tell from our pictures! The minivan not only got us through the tough terrain, but can even withstand a gas light coming on at the bottom of the hill where we started! Yes….it was an off-roading rookie mistake to not look at the gas tank as we started out!!
We also passed the old â€œMoffat Railwayâ€ train trestle…a reminder of the incredible feat of taking trains over the mountains, which was the highest and most dangerous railroad route in CO.
The Moffat Tunnel now replaces the old route that was traveled long ago.
As we continued along the road to the top we passed scenery that is indescribable. We saw the alpine lakes, streams and even some wildlife on an adventure that took us higher than the tree line.
We also stood on top of the Continental Divide, where there once was the town of Arrow (there were even remains of a building or two).
The top of the mountain was named Rollins Pass at 11,660 feet. John Quincy Adams Rollins established a toll road through this pass in the mid 1860â€™s. David Moffat railway passed at this point in 1903. A railroad station, hotel, restaurant and workers quarters existed there until 1928 until the railroad was abandoned due to the building of the Moffat Tunnel.
We had a wonderful trip and were very excited about what we saw and learned!! After a nice warm dinner we then ended the day with Justin reading the famous Dr. Seuss â€œGreen Eggs & Hamâ€ to Micah.
Below are some facts we learned about the Moffat Tunnel:
Length: 6.21 miles
Location: Situated 50 miles west of Denver’s Union Station. It reduced the previously-used primary rail route by 150 miles and 4 hours travel time.
Altitude: The tunnel portals are just below 9,200 feet and the tunnel rises to 9,242 feet at its midpoint. It crosses beneath a ridge at 11,600 feet, north of 13,294-foot James Peak.
David H. Moffat, Jr.: President of Denver & Rio Grande Railroad who pursued a vision of a rail route west from Denver through the Continental Divide.
Moffat’s Death: David H. Moffat, Jr. died March 18, 1911, 11 years before his vision of a project to build a tunnel was begun.
Moffat Tunnel Bill: Passed in special session of the Colorado Legislature April 29, 1922.
Cost of Completion: $15.6 million.
Construction Fatalities: 28 died during the 5-year project, six in a single cave-in July 30, 1926.
“Holing-Through” Ceremony: Feb. 18, 1927.
First Freight Train: Feb. 24, 1928, 12 cars.