Much of the old West was built by railroads. And while the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad put many towns on the map, none went up quite as quickly as Alamosa.
The narrow gauge rail into town was completed on June 22, 1878, and shortly after, a train full of assorted pre-built buildings from nearby Garland City were brought in and put into place that same day. Rumor has it, in fact, that the men who worked the line had breakfast in Garland City that morning, and were later served dinner in the same building that evening - in Alamosa.
Off for InspectionBy 1890, and for the following half-century, Alamosa was the hub of narrow gauge railroading in America. The busy depot hummed day and night with the activity of both passenger and freight trains from Denver, Durango, Santa Fe, Salida and Creede arriving and departing daily. The freight trains supplied the developing valley with ore, lumber, cattle, sheep and farm products, and in turn, agricultural and mining products were shipped out. Less than a decade later, after years of unsuccessful surveying, a workable route was found and the narrow gauge rail would be replaced by standard gauge from the town of La Veta over La Veta Pass and into Alamosa.
Today, more than 100 years later, the same standard gauge rails are still in use, carrying both freight and passengers over La Veta Pass on the San Luis & Rio Grande Railroad and the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad.