Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Railroad Camp

In 1889 The Denver Rio Grande Railroad finally agreed to connect the booming mining town of Lake City, CO. to the main line, which was to the north, located in, *Sapinero, Co. It wasn't really that far away, but a very difficult terrain. The first few miles had to be blasted through shear canyon walls.
This is what was the railroad bed through this canyon, looks like today. The rails are gone and there really is no sign that it was ever there..The Lake Fork of the Gunnison River runs along the left side of this photo.
click on photo to enlarge
A history sign does mark the spot along these canyon walls, of one of the labor camps, where large groups of railroad workers lived, many of them immigrants from Italy. They worked ten hour days, six days a week, and most of this stretch of track was completed in the winter months....which can be very harsh around here.
The men lived in these half buried stone structures, that they covered with tree branches, or canvas.Some men even lived in tents.. There are about six or seven remaining structures at this site.
The interior of this stone structure had a crudely constructed fireplace,where they were known to have baked bread.
An old photo of some of the workers
click on photo to enlarge
These were hearty, hard working men, who put in those long back breaking hours for only a $1.75 a day.

This  post wouldn't be complete without showing you our darling little train, that eventually rode on those tracks.. It came into town every day, except Sunday, and spent the night....before loading it's two or three cars (four at the most) for the return trip. Pete, pictured above with his wife, was one of the crew members. He would blow the whistle, when approaching Lake City, and folks dropped what they were doing and hurried to the depot. It was, without a doubt, the most exciting part of the day!

The train picture is from the book My Lake City Memories
requested permission of Grant Houston of The Hinsdale County Historical Society

*Sapinero, Co. was moved to a hillside, south of where the original town site, because of the damming of  The Gunnison River  in 1965 to form Lake Blue Mesa .



  1. American railroad history is fascinating and you have made part of it come to life! What a rigorous and difficult life it must have been for those workers!

  2. wow, a tough workman's life! in winter!

  3. That must have been a hard job to built the railway. The circumstances to live there were very primitive. And now it all has gone, no railway anymore, sad.