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July 2019

Less Ghost town then I suspected

With a population of close to 600 I can’t say this is a Ghost Town. Anyway, not like some people insist. It does have significance as a historic site.

Many people wonder why the town of Westcliffe (1887) was built so close to Silver Cliff. The answer has to do with railroads and money. Officers of the railroad bought up land west of Silver Cliff and in 1880 the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad (D&RG) laid narrow gauge tracks into Westcliffe via Grape Creek. Naturally, land prices went up as stores and businesses vied for locations next to the railroad terminus. Investors presumably made a timely profit.  An 1881 flash flood wiped out 33 of 35 bridges and 18 miles of Grape Creek track. After reconstruction, another heavy storm in 1889 meant abandoning the line and the valley was left without rail transportation. The D&RG brought a standard gauge line up from Texas Creek in June 1901, once again opening the valley to rail connections. The last whistle sounded in 1939.