Denver & Rio Grande Western

020077A 3088 Clay 2-77

DENVER AND RIO GRANDE WESTERN  FREIGHT OPERATIONS

The D&RG was incorporated in 1870, with construction beginning that same year.  However, it was not until the completion of the Dotsero Cutoff in 1934 that the Rio Grande had any chance at seriously competing for transcontinental freight traffic and under the benign receivership of Wilson McCarthy and Henry Swan between 1935 and 1955, the company finally shook off the indebtedness and beholding to railroads and management in far off places.  With modern CTC operation on its mainlines, the company moved into its golden years of the 1960’s and ’70’s in the best shape of its life.  The loss of important connections in the early 1980’s caused the company to cast its lot with a weakened Southern Pacific and by the end of the decade the two had merged and the new owners schemed at ways to flog off the combined companies to the UP, which did in fact occur in 1997.   UP quickly mothballed the Tennessee Pass line and emptied the former D&RGW of every train it could. Today, few trains ply the line and many of those are trackage rights train operated by the BNSF.  The papers found herein should give the reader a basic understanding of how operations developed on the D&RGW before they were so rudely eliminated.

Chuck Conway

Golden CO

March 2022

Freight Schedules

DRGW Condensed Freight Schedules 6-28-1952
DRGW Condensed Freight Schedules 1965
DRGW Freight Train Schematic 7-1-1974
DRGW Condensed Freight Schedules-10-30-1983
DRGW Condensed Freight Schedules 1988
DRGW SP SOO Freight Schedules 1989 – these schedules were part of the SP proposal to purchase Soo Line’s former Milwaukee Road line from Kansas City to Chicago

DRGW 3076E Coal Creek, Clay CO 252 8-1979 Chuck ConwayTrain 252, a second section of 52 (example consist below) about to cross Coal Creek west of Clay, CO on August 12, 1979.  Chuck Conway photo.

Train Consists

DRGW 152 4-16-1983 – Train 152 was detouring over the Union Pacific due to the Thistle, UT landslide.  The train would normally split at Grand Junction into Denver and Pueblo sections, but due to the detour will set out at Denver and then proceed to Pueblo.

Train Lineups

DRGW Colorado Division lineup 12-12-1978
DRGW Utah Division Lineup 3-4-1981
DRGW System Lineup 10-7-1981
DRGW Colorado Division Lineup 2-8-1986

Other Resources

idrgw.com has a 1958 Condensed Freight Schedule here as well as many employee timetables available.

Historic Railroad Documents has a 1972 Freight Train Schematic available here, along with other interesting operating information.

Don Strack’s UtahRails.net has considerable information about a variety of topics.

Mark Hemphill has an excellent article about the mineral commodities handled by the Rio Grande in the August 2004 Trains.

Chuck Conway’s Rio Grande: books feature informative captions describing the customers and carloads pictured in the train photos, as well as identifying most trains by symbol, a refreshing change from many photo books.