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Rio Grande: Jewel of the Wasatch
Rio Grande: Jewel of the Wasatch

Rio Grande: Jewel of the Wasatch

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Stock Number: wrpJEWEL
Availability: In Stock
Condition: New
Feature: hardcover
Feature: Chuck Conway
Feature: White River Productions, 2019
Manufacturer Number: 978-1932804560

This volume continues the series of high-quality titles about the Denver & Rio Grande Western published by White River Productions. High-quality in the photograph reproduction, the selection of images and the thick, glossy paper used in a large-format hardbound book. Many pages have one large photograph, some 2 to 3 images. Most photographs give a good view of the spectacular scenery along with the trains and the reason for the trains, the industries served. The captions are extensive and there are a number of color maps. There are a few, nice, steam-powered train photographs from 1941 that are included here. Colorado is a beautiful state, but so is Utah which may have been under-photographed on the Rio Grande vs. Colorado.

Expect more great photography of the Denver & Rio Grande Western as it traverses the barren, but beautiful in its own way, expanse of the American West. This route had the famous grade over Soldier Summit which was one of the many obstacles for this relatively smaller main-line railroad. That the Rio Grande could compete with the Union Pacific with a more direct route to Salt Lake City was amazing.

This third volume covering the Denver & Rio Grande Western in the era of color photography examines the origins and ultimate demise of the D&RGW's Utah Division between Grand Junction, Colorado, and Ogden, Utah. Built by the same General Palmer who had contributed so much to the early Denver & Rio Grande in Colorado, the line across the eastern Utah desert to the Wasatch Front never had large precious mineral deposits as the siren song attraction for railroad construction. This road would rely on the more mundane carloads of coal, iron ore, and copper as its early mainstay.

Following the merger of the Utah and Colorado lines in 1908, the company began focusing on upgrading its property and soliciting traffic from far beyond the borders of its two home states. This transcontinental traffic, along with the burgeoning coal business developed after World War II, would make the D&RGW a successful and profitable property, despite being surrounded by much larger, often unfriendly carriers. A portion of the Utah Division's history is noted in the coverage of the remnants of D&RGW's far-flung narrow-gauge empire in Colorado. But the real story lies west of Grand Junction, where merchandise, lumber products, perishables and piggyback shipments were added to the area's considerable mineral traffic and the few remaining passenger trains operated during the latter years of D&RGW ownership.

As with many enterprises, circumstances are always changing and despite its own good management and customer-oriented operations, the D&RGW was not always in control of its own fate. One by one the needed connections were eliminated until the D&RGW was forced to cast its lot with a weakened Southern Pacific. This would prove to be a short-lived partnership and as the 20th century drew to a close, new owner Union Pacific finally got its wish of killing off the D&RGW once and for all. Today, some of the lines covered in this volume see no UP trains at all on a regular basis, but the pictures and stories herein provide a look back to better days, when the Rio Grande was indeed the Jewel of the Wasatch.

Great Salt Lake Route, pp. 6-7;
Grand Junction, pp. 8-15;
Colorado Branches, pp. 16-37;
The Desert, pp. 38-79;
Soldier Summit, pp. 80-119;
The Wasatch Front, pp. 120-155;
Utah Branches, pp. 156-207;
Bibliography and Index of Photographers, pg. 208.

White River Productions, hardcover with jacket, 208 pages, larger landscape format book, 12 x 9, Color photography and maps, extensive captions and text.

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