Colorado railroads were born out of necessity. It was an easy way to transport gold from the gold fields and bring commerce, settlers and tourists into the territory.
However, it wasn't until 1853 when the U.S. government sent an expedition into Kansas and westward into the Colorado Territory to survey for a transcontinental railroad.
Unfortunately, when these surveys were brought back to D.C., they were ignored and the idea of a railroad into Colorado had died.
Along came the gold rush. For years miners, assayers and mine owners were looking for a quick way to send their gold for smelting and back east to the mints.
Some interest was renewed by the surveys of the 1850's. The Union Pacific, for instance would run a rail line from Kansas that would clip the northeast corner of Colorado and continue up into Wyoming.
With this news, Denver residents and other Coloradans moved into Wyoming to be near the railroad lines.
This was looking like the end of the Colorado Territory ever making it big with the U.S. government.
The remaining citizens of Denver decided to fight back and formed a Board of Trade and built their own railroad named the Denver Pacific, which would meet up with the Union Pacific in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
In June of 1870, the line was finished. A silver spike, from the Lebanon mine in Georgetown was laid at the intersection of the two railroads, and a new era of Colorado history began.
Within five years, Colorado's population tripled and a second railroad ran its line into the state. This was the Kansas and Pacific.
Eastern railroad owners finally realized the importance of the state of Colorado to westward expansion.
In the fall of 1870, another railroad laid its line, the Denver Rio Grande. The Denver and Rio Grande was a narrow gauge line, perfect for traveling the mountains and canyons of the Rocky Mountains.
Two big competitors, the Santa Fe and Denver Rio Grande waged a war between each other to run a rail line to Leadville and the silver mines.
Soon there were rail heads all over the eastern foothills of Colorado. The Colorado Midland Railroad was built out of Colorado Springs and headed up Ute Pass and on to the silver mines of Aspen, Leadville and eventually to the gold mines of Cripple Creek.
Heading into southwestern Colorado and the mines was the Rio Grande Southern Railroad. Its tracks followed the early toll roads traveled by stagecoaches.
Soon the entire state was crossed with many different railroad lines, all leading to the Pacific.
Not only did railroads increase the revenue of the state but paved the way further west.
Some of the rail lines and trains are still functioning and running today all over Colorado.