Aspen History: Last Train from Aspen
“Train service ends after 81 years,” announced The Aspen Times on Jan. 16, 1969. “An era ended in Aspen Tuesday when the Denver and Rio Grande ran its last freight train in and out of Aspen after more than 81 years of service. The last train consisted of a double diesel engine, No. 3021, and a caboose. It paused briefly at the railroad yards to pick up two empty freight cars, then slowly pulled out again at about 4:15 PM for the last run to Glenwood Springs. Only a handful of spectators witnessed the departure of the last train. 81 years earlier on Nov. 1, 1887, the whole town turned out to welcome the first official train from Denver. Although the Nov. 1, 1887, train was listed as the first official one to enter Aspen, a work train with two engines arrived late in October after the tracks were finished. According to Caroline Bancroft, author of ‘Famous Aspen,’ the Rio Grande was narrow gauge and beat the Colorado Midland RR into Aspen by only three months. The Midland was standard gauge and arrived early in February.” This image shows two Denver & Rio Grande engines leaving the Aspen yard in October of 1968, not long before service ended. Smuggler Mountain is in the background.
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