Rand Hood speaks to Craig community members Saturday about the Moffat Railroad in the basement of the Museum of Northwest Colorado.

Photo by Nate Waggenspack

Rand Hood speaks to Craig community members Saturday about the Moffat Railroad in the basement of the Museum of Northwest Colorado.

Railroad historian comes to Museum of Northwest Colorado

In continuing its series on the railroad coming to Craig, the Museum of Northwest Colorado brought out a railroad expert and major contributor to its exhibit Saturday.

Rand Hood, a railroad historian and the artist responsible for the train dioramas that accompany the museum’s railroad exhibit, came to Craig from his hometown of Larkspur to speak about the railroad’s history and engage with community members about the historic Moffat Railroad, which later became the Denver and Salt Lake, and finally the Union Pacific.

Hood discussed a history on David Moffat and his designs for a railroad to Salt Lake City that then would connect Denver to California, including all the financial obstacles Moffat and the railroad came under in trying to complete that mission.

As Moffat largely was financing the railroad from his own fortune, getting to Oak Creek was a major goal, because then the railroad could make more significant money transporting coal.

“It was good foresight to know they needed to get to this region,” Hood said. “But they weren’t producing any revenue until they got here, which was kind of their demise. The debt was so huge, they couldn’t finance anything else with the railroad.”

But the effort to make it to Routt and Moffat counties is not to be overlooked, Hood said, citing the 17 tunnels that had to be blasted out in the first 13 miles of the rail, and the treacherous Corona Pass portion of the railroad.

“It still reached this region, and it did a lot,” he said. “In the 1970s, the railroad was transporting 28 trains per day. It is still doing a lot.”

Hood also took questions and exchanged stories with community members. He shared his experiences riding on the railroad, and Craig residents talked about stories from their prior generations about the railroad’s arrival in town, or what life was like when the trains signaled things like when the mail arrived.

“I enjoyed it immensely,” said Lois Norman about the presentation. “It was all so interesting. I thought (Hood) did a great job.”

Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 970-875-1795 or nwaggenspack@CraigDailyPress.com

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