Railroads Changed Leadville Forever

As word of the 1860’s gold discoveries in Leadville spread, boom towns rapidly sprang up, populations rose, and individual claims and large mining operations multiplied. Inevitably, railroads raced to construct tracks that would access these growing and profitable towns.

Two companies—the Denver, South Park, and Pacific Railroad and the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad—took the lead though were ultimately pressured to share tracks north of Buena Vista to Leadville and tracks west into Gunnison County via Chalk Creek.

In 1884, the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad ended the agreement, forcing the Denver, South Park, and Pacific Railroad to build their own line into Leadville. This line crossed the Continental Divide twice, proceeded across Boreas Pass to Breckenridge, and traversed Fremont Pass to Leadville.

Today, visitors to Leadville can ride the Leadville Colorado and Southern Railroad, which takes passengers along some of the historic Denver, South Park and Pacific lines. The train ride showcases the beauty of the Rocky Mountains while enlightening guests on Leadville’s vibrant and often humorous past.