The Rollins Pass/Moffat Road is an epic in railroading history.
David Moffat had a dream: a railroad line over or through the Continental Divide linking Denver with the coal from the western slope and beyond. In 1881 he failed with the Denver, Utah, and Pacific, a narrow gauge railroad. In 1902 he started building the Denver Northwestern and Pacific Railway, a standard gauge railroad. The "Hill Route" with 33 short tunnels was opened in 1904 as a temporary line until a tunnel could be bored through James Peak. He didn't forsee that the 24 mile route over Rollins Pass would be used as part of the mainline for nearly 24 years.
The 6.2 mile Moffat Tunnel was completed in 1928. The "Hill Route" was closed, and abandoned in 1935. The rails were pulled up. The original route became a tourist attraction in 1955 as an auto road. Snow was cleared by July 4th and it was "passable" until snowed over in the fall. It was in 1979 that a rockfall near the north portal of the Needle's Eye Tunnel occurred. The road was closed to the public and the trestles were declared unsafe.
JOIN WITH US IN PRESERVING THIS NATIONAL HISTORIC DISTRICT.
The Rollins Pass Restoration Association, a non-profit organization, was incorporated in 1983 by a group of people who also had a dream. We would support the restoration of the Needle's Eye Tunnel, assist in preserving as much of the original road as possible, and work towards restoring the road to the condition as in 1979: a rural mountain road which would be used by two wheel drive vehicles.
SUMMERS ON THE PASS
THE NEEDLE'S EYE TUNNEL IS PRESENTLY BLOCKED. This effectively prevents a through route. You may drive up either side.
Follow the "Hill Route" of the Denver Northwestern and Pacific Railway. Take a drive to the top and enjoy a bit of history and some of the most beautiful scenery in Colorado. The road officially opens the Fourth of July and closes with snowfall in late autumn.
On the East side, turn west off Colorado Highway 119 at Rollinsville at the Rollins Pass Road sign. On the West side, turn east off US Highway 40 just south of Winter Park at the Moffat Road "Hill Route" sign.
Two wheel drive vehicles can go up past Forest Lakes (number 11) from the east side and up to Corona (number 13) from the west side to the parking lots.
PASS HAS MANY NAMES
Over a period of years, the Pass at the top of the Continental Divide earned many names. Those on the east side of the Divide called it Rollins Pass, while those on the west side called it Corona Pass. Men who worked on the Moffat Road called it "Hell Hill". The name of the "Moffat Road" was familiar to many; it was the railroad that went where many thought a railroad could not be built.
WE NEED YOUR HELP!
Make a donation. Join us! Fill out a membership application and work with us.
Whether you are a railroad buff, a 4-wheeler, a nature enthusiast, photographer, fisherman, or a citizen wanting to preserve the heritage and history this beautiful mountain pass has to offer, it will take many people working together to obtain our goals.
In 1987 Rollins Pass Restoration Association completed part of our dream. Thanks to the cooperation of the U.S. Forest Service, Boulder County, Grand County, Gilpin County and the Colorado Historical Society, and over 900 individual contributions, the Needle's Eye Tunnel was rock-bolted and once again opened to the public. Several hundred people joined in celebrating this feat at the official "Eye Opener" on July 3, 1988.
It was with shock to all that another rockfall occurred at the tunnel on July 15, 1990. The Needle's Eye Tunnel is once again closed. We have had a setback, but are striving to save and coordinate the restoration of this historic landmark.
RPRA LOOKS TO THE FUTURE
Through the work, dedication and donations of many people, the Needle's Eye Tunnel was restored. Unfortunately now there is additional repair work to do.
Rollins Pass Restoration Association's goals for the future are
1. Coordinate and help with the funding to repair the Needle's Eye Tunnel.
2. Encourage that east/west access be restored. Close as little of the road as possible.
3. Encourage the installation of adequate signs of historic significance and restroom facilities.
4. Restore the Historic Gazebo (Lookout Structure) at Corona.
5. Fund engineering studies of the Twin Trestles on Devil's Slide.
Our long term goal is to help restore the Twin Trestles and return the route to a rural mountain road roughly as it was prior to 1979: a two wheel drive route across the Continental Divide.
The railroad men fighting severe storms to keep the line open had a motto, "Moffat Men Never Give Up" and we've adopted the "Never Give Up" as our own. Join us!
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