Georgetown Loop Railroad

  • Vicinity: Runs between Georgetown and Silver Plume
  • Travel Genus: Sight
  • Sight Category: Structure

Do the Loop

When the Colorado Central Railroad needed to climb a steep, narrow canyon at Devil's Gate just west of Georgetown, it employed Union Pacific engineer Robert Blickenderfer to design an ingenious solution: a 300-foot-long trestle that would allow the track to ascend in a more feasible grade by doubling back over itself in an engineered loop. Combined with miles of curves surveyed over the canyon's landforms, the Georgetown Loop would allow the train to traverse the two miles to the next mining camp of Silver Plume on a steep, but feasible, 4 percent grade. Construction supervisor Robert Brewster Stanton ordered the wrought iron trestle towers fabricated by contractors Clark Reeves and Company of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, a company that would later incorporate as the Phoenix Bridge Company, one of the country's premier bridge fabricators. The contractors initially installed the towers backwards over the stone pedestals so that the trestle ran downhill instead of uphill. After Stanton rejected the initial installation, they hastily reconstructed the trestle in the right configuration.

Stanton also found riveting problems, which Clark Reeves fixed, attributing it to the difficulty of convincing skilled riveters to scale the dizzying structure over the rocky canyon and rushing waters of Clear Creek. Finally in 1884 trains steamed from Georgetown, over the "High Bridge" and into Silver Plume.

The Georgetown Loop in particular became famous as a Gilded Age tourist destination, after William Henry Jackson photographed the breathtakingly tall trestle and the railroad advertised it. From 1884 through the end of the century, tourists came to "do the loop." - NRHP



Y/M/D Person Association Description Composition Food Event
Y/M/D Person Association Description Composition Food Event
1877/00/00 Robert Blickensderfer Engineer Union Pacific engineer Robert Blickensderfer designs a 300-foot-long trestle that will allow the Colorado Central Railroad to climb a steep, narrow canyon at Devil's Gate.
1884/00/00 Clarke, Reeves and Co Bridge Fabricators Fabricated by contractors Clark Reeves and Company of Phoenixville, the Georgetown Loop is completed by bold iron-workers.
1885/00/00 William Henry Jackson Photographer William Henry Jackson photographs the Georgetown Loop and the railroad advertises it. The "The Loop near Georgetown, Colorado" Albumen silver print is part of the J Paul Getty Museum's permanent collection.
1973/00/00 Union Pacific Railroad Benefactor Rail line re-construction begins with track and ties donated by the Union Pacific Railroad.
1984/03/10 A 3-mile (4.8 km) restored segment opens at the upper end of the Colorado Central main line up Clear Creek Canyon west of Golden. The Georgetown Loop Railroad climbs 640 feet (195 m) between the two towns using 3 mi of track.

Data »

Particulars for Georgetown Loop Railroad:
Criteria Architecture-Engineering
Area of Significance Engineering
Criteria Historic Event
Area of Significance Industry
Historic Use Road-related
Owner State
Sight Category Structure
Area of Significance Transportation

US National Registry of Historic Places Data »

Accurate at time of registration:

Registry Name:
Registry Address:
Registry Number: 70000909
Resource Type:
Owner: State
Level of Significance: State
Area of Significance: Industry, Engineering, Transportation
Applicable Criteria: Event, Architecture-Engineering
Period of Significance: 1900-1924, 1875-1899
Significant Year: 1877
Historic Function: Transportation
Historic Sub-Function: Road-related
Current Function: Unknown
Current Sub-Function:

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