The new Denver & Rio Grande Railroad runs excursions for the enlightenment and education of the general public on this track which back in 1883 was the original Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, later re-named Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad.
The line was originally constructed to bring wealthy and famous to the resorts at what is now the 4UR Ranch at Wagon Wheel Gap. The discovery of Silver and other Minerals further up the valley necessitated the extension for the Railroad to the Creede mining district.
Tracks were laid right up to the bottom of the mines in the canyon beyond the Creede Depot. Passenger trains served the Creede Branch from Alamosa also carrying the mail, as well as packages of the various Railway Express. All of these traditional services had ceased to exist by 1932, and freight trains continued to serve Creede (at Wasson) until 1985. After that date, service was cut back to South Fork serving the U.S. Forest Industries Sawmill. in 2001, the sawmills closed and freight service ceased west of Monte Vista, and currently idle freight cars are stored along this track.
The excursions of today run from South Fork along the scenic and rugged Upper Rio Grande River and it's palisades on the way to the three resorts at Wagon Wheel Gap, with special excursions for the dyed-in-the-wool railbuffs all the way up to the "Y" track at Wasson, CO for an extra fare and one additional hour of travel time.
In the 1880's, the Denver and Rio Grande Railway was in a building frenzy throughout Colorado. One of the most beautiful areas was on the headwaters of the Rio Grande River at a mountain pass known as Wagon Wheel Gap. Hot springs in this area, as well as the cool summers at its 8,500 foot elevation, made it a perfect resort area for the friends and guests of General William Jackson Palmer, president of the railroad. A rail line was extended to this spot from the end of the line in Del Norte. With mining demands high, the line was extended to the mountain mining town of Creede a few years later. This line was active through 1985 when the last few cars of ore were carried out. The line that carried hundreds of thousands of passengers and millions of dollars worth of silver ore fell quiet.
Roll forward to the Spring of 2000 when the Denver & Rio Grande Historical Foundation purchased this 21.6 mile line of scenic mountain meadows, rivers and 1,000 foot cliffs. This area is well known for its scenic vistas, historic towns and mines, fishing, hunting and just a wonderful get-away-from-it-all place.