Ridgway 37.8 mi
Elev 8116 ft.
The rails from Ridgway reached Vance on Nov 16, 1890, and
quickly pushed up Keystone Hill on a four percent grade, reaching
Telluride a week later. Vance soon became Vance Junction as
the rails climbed the side of the canyon to reach Ophir and
The coal pocket is still standing, and the roadbed is very traceable on the "high" line, but I was unable to trace the roadbed through Illium. That area had been fenced off with "No Trespassing" signs, and I had no inclination of getting into a conflict before I got to the Ophir area, which had much more appeal to me personally. The roadbed towards Ophir is drivable all the way to the Ames tank, which is now nothing more than a barely recognizable pile of rotting wood and scraps of metal. Just beyond that, the trail is impassable due to the erosion properties of the stream that once fed the tank. Due to time restraints, we did not hike in to the site of the former Ames trestle. There was an old passenger car awaiting the ravages of time, but it has been rescued by the Ridgway railroad historical society. It is currently at the Colorado Railroad Museum, though personally I do not think that it is salvagable. There was a couple box car bodies, probably still there.
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