Beautifully engraved SCARCE Gold Bond certificate from the Colorado Midland Railway Company
in 1897. This historic document was printed by the American Banknote Company and has an
ornate border around it with a vignette of a train station by a river flanked by two women. This item is hand signed by the Company’s President ( James N. Wallace ) and Secretary ( Oscar Bunke )and is
over 107 years old.
The Colorado Midland Railroad Company incorporated in Colorado, December 1st, 1893 was built with 4' 8 1/2" gauge track from Colorado Springs to Aspen, Colorado. The entire line covered a distance of 342 miles. It was built to gain better access to the silver and gold mines. Construction started in 1886, when entrepreneur John Hagerman arrived at the scene and brought much needed cash with him.
The line was constructed from Colorado Springs west over Ute Pass to Leadville. At the same work started at 11528ft high Hagermans Tunnel on Hagermans Pass from the West towards Leadville. Construction was started on both sides of the tunnel simultaneously, but material and tooling had to be dismantled and carried or lifted with cranes over a foot trail over the summit of the pass (12110ft) to the East side of the bore. Hagermans Tunnel was to be 2064 ft in length. Problems occured when silver was found during construction work of the tunnel and several workers laid claim to the "mine". However those "problems" were soon solved. The tracks towards the tunnel featured 16 degree curves and 4 percent grades. On August 30th 1887 the tunnel and pass were opened and trains where able to proceed over the so called "High Line". In the same year the railroad was completed to Glenwood Springs and Aspen - but the was closely beat by the Denver & Rio Grande RR which arrived in Aspen just a week earlier.
Operations over Hagermans Pass proved to be treacherous and accidents were frequent. Especially winter proved to be a very costly time and snow removal ate up most of the revenues.
Soon it became ovious, that the railroad would be in financial difficulties in the near future. In 1888 first surveys were made for a 9400 foot tunnel from Busk to Loch Ivanhoe which would be located 600ft lower than the original tunnel under Hagermans Pass.
To further ease operations, a 7 mile bypass around Leadville was built with much lower gradient. This bypass line was owned by the Aspen Shortline Railway - there was no more trust in the financially ailing CMR.
In 1893 the first train proceeded through the Busk - Ivanhoe Tunnel, but surprisingly the "High Line" and the Hagermans tunnel where left intact, even though no further traffic proceeded over the tortorous line.
The same year an agreement with the Rio Grande was reached to build a joint railway line westward to Grand Junction for a connection with Salt Lake City and Ogden. There were several reasons for this joint venture, which was named Rio Grande Junction Railway, one of them being the narrowness of the canyon to be passed.
Shortly after the Midlands merger with the Santa Fe both railroads went bancrupt in the process and joint receivership lasted until 1895, when a seperate receiver was appointed for the CMR. In 1897 the railroad was reorganized as the Colorado Midland Railway by bondholders - which surprisingly did NOT take over the lease agreement for the Busk Ivanhoe Tunnel
So the rails over the old "High Line" were repaired and soon trains begann travelling over the steep grade again. The winter of 1899 proved to be especially hard and also demonstrated how disastrous the decision in favor of the highline had been. Hagermans Pass was closed for 78 consecutive days due to blizzards, rotaries were snowed in and at one time a train loaded with cattle was caught up in snow its the entire load freezing to death. Several lives were lost in trying to fight the snow.
Before year end the company accepted defeat and this time purchased the Busk Ivanhoe Tunnel. Again trains proceeded via the lower line through the long tunnel - the tracks were removed from the "High Line". However these doings proved to be financially too much and so the company got a set of new owners in 1900 - the Denver & Rio Grande and the Colorado & Southern each purchasing 50 percent. The Rio Grande had more traffic than it could handle over its own line and was glad to relieve some of it via the tracks of the CMR. However when the Chicago Burlington & Quincy arrived at the scene by taking over the Colorado & Southern the Rio Grande started to divert traffic to its own parent the Denver & Rio Grande Western. In 1914 the Rio Grande purchased the remaining 25 percent of CMR shares in the Rio Grande Junction Railway and thus managed to own a complete and uninterrupted line all the way to the west.
Most of the traffic now remaining on the CMR was from silver mines of the Cripple Creek ragion and coal mines from Glenwood Springs. When the price of silver slumped in the early 1900s, bancrupcy of the CMR was inevitable and in 1912 receivership was once again called for. In 1917 the railroad was sold to private investors who renamed it (again) to Colorado Midland Railroad. In the process both C&S and the D&RG lost all their investments, however the Rio Grande had gotten their through line to Grand Junction out of it.
The new owners made great efforts to revive the railroad but in 1918 the USRA ordered, that for the benefit of the war effort for World War 1, all freight traffic be diverted over the Rio Grande. This terminated the Colorado Midland. In fact the board requested that rails be torn up right away nd shipped to France. However that order was not obeyed. The last train over the CMR ran in 1919, a special for Santa Fe officials who had shown interest in purchasing the line, but this came to nothing and in 1921 the railroad was dismantled.
At that time, the deconstruction of the line was the largest abandonment of a railroad in the U.S.A. ever. But not everything died. The Busk - Ivanhoe Tunnel started a second career as a road tunnel for automobiles travelling HWY 105 and was renamed Carlton Tunnel. Since the bore was too narrow for two lane operation, direction of travel changed every half hour.
In 1945 these operations came to an end, when the tunnel caved and was purchased in 1957 by a water company. It was restored at the cost of $500,000 dollars and now only carries water.