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Old 05-21-2010, 01:42 AM
 
Location: Colorado Springs
18,873 posts, read 8,860,357 times
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I always thought I would like to go with a 4X4 company/guide to explore Rollins Pass west of Boulder. Have any of you done it?

Last edited by Mike from back east; 05-21-2010 at 08:50 AM..
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Old 05-21-2010, 03:01 PM
 
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Rollins Pass looks like a real treat, some of the route being an old railroad line. IMO, do it, but from this article not sure if it's still open.
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Old 05-21-2010, 03:32 PM
 
Location: Colorado Springs
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I've read up on it a bit because it simply fascinates me in terms of history, railroading, and scenery. From what I've read, you can approach the old tunnel from either side of the mountains and get to within sight of it, but can no longer cross over. Apparently there is growing sentiment to reopen it; even Udall is getting involved.
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Old 05-21-2010, 04:47 PM
 
Location: Ned CO @ 8300'
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We've hiked the Rollins Pass area many times on our own, never taken a 4x4 tour (didn't know there were any). You can hike from one side to the other but you can't go through the Needles Eye Tunnel. It has been closed for many years.
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Old 05-21-2010, 05:27 PM
 
Location: Golden, CO
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There may still be snow on most of the trail. I drove some of it at the end of April and decided to turn around because of the snow.
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Old 05-21-2010, 06:36 PM
 
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Rollins Pass is indeed a treat, though it may not be passable until June or later, depending on snow melt. As others have noted, it is closed at the Needle's Eye Tunnel on the east side (and has been since the 1980's). I believe it is closed on the west side at the Devil's Slide trestle, which is not considered safe for vehicles. It is a very scenic and historical location. As to the road--unless it has deteriorated substantially since I was up there a few years back, it probably is easily passable if the road is dry in an AWD car with some clearance, as long as the driver isn't an idiot. Some good info here:

DRGW.Net : Rollins Pass

I was fortunate to travel over Rollins Pass in an auto back when both the Needle's Eye Tunnel and the Devil's Slide trestle were still passable to vehicles. Great trip back then. I also knew a fellow back when whose father had worked over Rollins Pass as a locomotive fireman.

For some great reads on the "Moffat Road" over Rollins Pass, look for the book "Rails That Climb," or "The Moffat Road,' both by Edward T. Bollinger.

Photo below of a train up on Rollins in 1905, from the Denver Public Library Western Collection. Though the exact month of the photo isn't known, it probably was taken in early summer, probably mid- to late June. Note the passengers in straw summer hats, etc.

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Old 05-21-2010, 08:14 PM
 
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Jazz, a ton of THANK YOU's for that picture. Judging by the backdrop, it looks like the train is above tree line...that's REAL railroading.
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Old 05-21-2010, 08:50 PM
 
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Mike, here's a couple more of my favorites from Denver photographer L. C. McClure of trains on Rollins Pass from the Denver Public Library Western Collection ( Photoswest.org ). I can't say enough about how wonderful the DPL Western Collection is.

The first one is of the rotary snowplow being shoved by a couple of locomotives up on Rollins. I've stood just that close to a working steam-powered rotary plow being shoved just this way (years back down on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic RR). I can tell you the sound is deafening, and those locomotives are probably throwing cinders the size of golfballs as their draft is so strong. The rotaries worked so hard it generally took two firemen shoveling almost continually to fire them. Then, if they couldn't make it to a water tank, they would have to shovel snow into the tender (called "snowing up") to make water. Know how much snow one has to shovel to make 6,000 gallons of water? Think guys were tough back then? Sure thing. Oh, and they could be worked 16 hours straight at a time, with only 8 hours off between shifts.




This photo is of the depot in the inside of the snowshed at Corona, which was the summit of Rollins Pass. Imagine this with a train in the shed with 2 or more locomotives belching coal smoke and only meager ventilation. No wonder just about every railroader who worked on Rollins Pass got "gassed" (carbon monoxide poisoning) at one time or another. Oh, and Corona is at about 11,000 feet above sea level.

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Old 05-21-2010, 08:53 PM
 
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Awesome pix and info .... from the days of iron men and wooden ships....
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Old 05-21-2010, 09:01 PM
 
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This video doesn't do justice to the sight and sound experience of an operating steam rotary plow. I know, because I was there--I spotted myself at one point in the video clip.


YouTube - Steam Rotary Preview
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