Historic Railroad Map of Colorado - 1879

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Colorado Railroad Map published in 1879 by Rand, McNally & Co.

Colorado was organized as a Territory in 1861. This map was drawn just after Colorado earned its statehood in 1876, and at that time, a major silver boom was beginning at Leadville. The valuable silver discovery was luring many fortune hunters to the area during this era. These newly discovered resources necessitated more and more railroad lines, able to run through some expressly difficult Rocky Mountain terrain.

A bitter battle between the Santa Fe and Rio Grande railroads known as the Royal Gorge War ended in 1879. It was decided on April 21 of that year, by way of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, that the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad should acquire the primary rights for building a line through the narrow gorge, along the Arkansas River, in areas that couldn’t accommodate multiple lines. The ruling came after two years of vicious sabotage acts and harsh armed standoffs between the two railroads.

New railroad connections allowed for more mining accessibility throughout the region during this era.

The map indicates relief, drainage, counties, cities, towns, and ruins. It shows railroads with names along the lines.

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