Hear the Whistle Blow

Story of how the two railroad branches of the Denver and Rio Grande (D&RG) made their way into the Wet Mountain ValleyHear the Whistle Blow along the Royal Gorge and through the Wet Mountain Valley is the story of the two railroad branches of the Denver and Rio Grande (D&RG) that made their way into the Wet Mountain Valley. To tell the story of the railroad serving the valley it was important to analyze the motivation for their building and the impact on the lives of the residents they served.

There was a need for faster transportation to take the place of the slow pack trains led by mules that tried in vain to supply the needs of miners who dug for Gold and Silver in the hills of Colorado. The story of General Jackson Palmer, Railroad Builder and Man of Vision, and his partner William Bell, Physician, City Planner and Entrepreneur, is told within the pages of this book. The reader will learn of the building of tracks through the Royal Gorge to carry the Denver and Rio Grande trains and the fight between the Santa Fe Railroad & the D&RG Railroad over which railroad would take possession of the track along the Arkansas River. There are stories of the narrow gauge and standard gauge railroads and the impact they had on the people and communities they served.

Chapters of interest include “Why a Railroad in Westcliffe,” “Tracks, Trains, and Technicalities,” and “People and Places.” The last chapter is about a local group, All aboard Westcliffe, and their plans to preserve Railroad History for people now and in the future.

Denver and Rio Grande Train Station in Westcliffe, Colorado, circa 1901.

Denver and Rio Grande Train Station in Westcliffe,
Colorado, circa 1901. Sketch by Irene Francis.

This sketch of the Denver and Rio Grande railroad station and train show them much as they looked in 1901 when the D&RG railroad brought the standard gauge train up the valley from Texas Creek. The building can be seen at the West end of Main Street in Westcliffe.

Read a Sample.

Irene at the Old Denver-Rio Grande Station House, Westcliffe, Colorado

Irene Francis in Front of the Old Station House