A lot of what Craig is today may not have happened if it hadn’t been for the Denver & Salt Lake Railroad that came to Craig in 1913, said Dan Davidson, director of the Museum of Northwest Colorado.
Davidson helped provide facts and photos about the railroad in Craig for an article in the March 2010 edition of the Corona Telegraph, a publication that has covered the D&SL Railroad for more than 10 years.
The D&SL Railroad, originally the Denver, Northwestern and Pacific Railway, started in Denver in 1902, with the original intent of going through Northwest Colorado to Salt Lake City.
Because of financial complications, it didn’t make it further than Craig.
When the railroad came in, it made sending and receiving goods in Craig easier, Davidson said.
“No one event has changed Craig like the railroad,” he said, “It gave us transportation.”
Davidson said the main thing he wanted to get across in the Corona Telegraph’s issue was to show the progression of the railroad through the years.
“It is the best in-depth look at the rail yard in Craig ever done,” he said.
With the use of the railroad, Craig was able to export cattle, coal and other goods, all of which helped Craig become what it is today, Davidson said.
“Without the rail system, we probably wouldn’t have any coal mines or the power plant,” he said.
He guessed that without the rail system that Craig might be the size of Hayden.
Although Denver and Rio Grande Railroad later acquired the company and cutoffs were put in to slow traffic in the Craig portion, the railway is still used today to send out coal.
The first permanent structure built for a depot in Craig, which has since been boarded up, still stands at the south end of Yampa Avenue.
The Corona Telegraph, which has been in publication since 1998, only releases a few issues a year, each one covering a different aspect of the rail system.
Davidson said the magazine is for people who are interested in the history of trains and model trains. He hopes that it will get more people interested in what the rail system is all about.
A copy of the Corona Telegraph issue can be purchased for $9.95 at the museum, 590 Yampa Ave.