Colorado’s Least Known Tunnel Almost Didn’t Happen
The fastest way to get from point "A" to point "B" is a straight line. Living in Colorado, we know this isn't always possible with all the mountains and valleys. Enter to the tunnel, a giant hole blasted through a mountain creating said straight line.
You're probably familiar with Colorado's famous Eisenhower Tunnel, which is the highest and longest tunnel on the Interstate Highway System. Did you know there's a longer tunnel in Colorado? The Moffat Tunnel, a railway portal, stretches six miles through the Continental Divide -- whoa!
Moffat Tunnel had a hard time coming to fruition, however. The brainchild of railroad pioneer, David Moffat, Moffat Tunnel was to provide easier access to the west coast from Denver. Cheyenne, Wyo. and Pueblo, Colo. both had rail access west, both direct competitors to Moffat's Denver, Northwestern Pacific Railroad.
Moffat, however, was unable to raise funds fro the tunnel before he passed in 1911. Although efforts continued after Moffat's death, the measure was defeated multiple time until 1922 when Pueblo was devastated by a flood.
Construction began in 1923 and was finally "holed through" by President Calvin Coolidge in 1927. Fun Fact: President Coolidge pressed a button in Washington, DC that detonated the dynamite, which was broadcast via radio from the mountain.
Construction of the tunnel was completed in 1928, giving Denver access west and providing a straight path for water transportation from the west back east to Denver.
Building the tunnel didn't come cheap. The original cost was slated for $6.6 million, but when it was all said and done, the total cost of the tunnel topped $23.9 million. During construction, 3 billion pounds of rock was removed from the mountain.
Moffatt Tunnel is still in use today, transporting coal and freight. Tourists can enjoy the tunnel via Amtrack's California Zephyr. Plus, the Winter Park Express is starting back up this year with trips from Denver to Winter Park during ski season.
Have you ever checked out Moffat Tunnel?