It was February 6, 1949 when the last passenger train ran on the historic Midland Terminal. The train was filled to capacity – 169 passengers. One could not have asked for a better day. A bright sun shone down out of an almost cloudless sky making perfect visibility for photographs. One would never forget the people along the line who waved at the passengers while taking a final look at "their train." Or the many motorists who paced the train on the adjoining highway (US-24 and SH 61).
I have no recollection of this memorial event; I was three years old. What I do remember is that our home in Old Colorado City was less than three blocks from the abandoned railroad bed and five blocks from the abandoned roundhouse and machine shop. As youth, we "toured" the inside of the abandoned buildings and walked the "line" to nearly the town of Cascade, over the "double-dare" Crystal Park Trestle/Viaduct (93x19 Frame, 151x46 Frame, 64x46 Deck Girder, 95x18 Pile) and through the eight tunnels in Ute Pass. The remainder of the "line" was viewed from my parent's car; they, too, where remembering their past.
As a structural engineer, I have been captivated by the many engineering feats accomplished by the Colorado Midland design engineers. Over the last several months I have studied and visited many of the railroad sites and, in doing so, I recall things that I knew and many things that I did not know were revealed by my study. My emphasis was to tell the story from an Chief Design Engineer's perspective and to learn why the train stopped at the many towns along the way – what were the people doing there and how did the stops get their names – this was a fascinating step into the past and early history of Colorado as a Territory and then as a State. The quest was to answer my many questions, including:
• Why the CM started with Palmer & the Kansas Pacific
• Why Colorado City was chosen as a Division hub
• Why J.J. Hagerman had a grudge against Palmer and the D&RG
• Why the CM committed the railroad equivalent of "claim-jumping"
• What station was named after a political cartoonist
• What was behind the major search for coal (Jerome Park, Coal Basin, South Canyon, New Castle) and why each of three mines in Jerome Park produced a different grades of coal
• How did the stations get their names - station history
• Who was Samuel S. Sands, why was a station named in his honor, why did S.S. Sands Company buy all of the Collateral Trust Notes in 1891, essentially owning the CM for a short period of time
• What part did the Grand River Coal and Coke, and the CF&I play - who was Charles Osgood
• Why the Midland was called the "Cattlemen's Railroad"
• Why the CM hauled load after load of gold ore and how the gold ore was processed at both the Mine and in Colorado City
• Why the D&RG seemed to always get the better route for their railbed
• Why were J.J. Hill (Great Northern and Northern Pacific, as well as the Chicago Burlington and Quincy) and Henry Thumbull (Consolidator/Receiver for the Union Pacific Denver & Gulf and the Leadville & Gunnison) interested in the Colorado Midland (and the D&RG/D&RGW)
• Who were the primary players
• Who was supported by the Colorado Midland
• Who were the competition
• Which CM President inadvertently built a haunted house - the inspiration for the "Changeling"
• Why did the CM go to Aspen and took the "hard way"
• What part did Rathbone & Brothers Co. of Liverpool & London play in the routes to Glenwood Springs and Aspen
• What bankrupted Jerome Wheeler and what saved J.J. Hagerman
• What indirect part did the Gould's play in the ownership changes – who was really "pulling the strings"
• Why are there many locations named "Hayden"
• Who was Henry Wigglesworth and what did he do
• How was the route chosen - who said to cross the Continental Divide more than once
• What was Carlton's plan, in May of 1917, to extent the line to Salt Lake City to connect with the UP; a plan preempted by the US