Grand Junction to Dotsero

At Grand Junction (MP 450.0), where the speed limit is 35 mph, the passenger station is on the northeast side of the line on the 4,560 ft. Depot Siding (MP 450.0-448.9), there is a four track freight yard southwest of the main tracks, with two additional tracks between the passenger track and the two-track main line, and three additional single-ended east-facing yard tracks. The line to Montrose departs to the south as the main line (at least two tracks turns) east-northeast, with a road bridge overhead, east of the Montrose line, a spur to rail-served industries on the south side at 5th Street, a grade crossing at 7th Street, another grade crossing, the crossovers at 10th Street (MP 448.7), where the speed limit rises to 79-60, another yard along the south side of the tracks to East Yard (MP 447.0), where there are just four tracks remaining, laid out as two sets of two tracks, with additional tracks on the south side east of East Yard, and the reduction in total number of tracks at CP RG446 (MP 445.6). The single-track, CTC, line continues east-northeast past Fruitvale (MP 445.0), a detector at MP 444.1, Intermediate Signals, a grade crossing, a road bridge overhead at the west end of the 5,200 ft. siding on the south side at Clifton (MP 443.2-442.1), with two grade crossings within the siding, a road bridge overhead, three grade crossings, Intermediate Signals, two grade crossings, US 6 alongside to the south, three grade crossings, and the 12,200 ft. siding at Palisade (MP 438.3-435.9), with a grade crossing, extra track on the south side, and a grade crossing within the siding, where the Colorado River comes alongside to the south, line and river turn north, and the speed limit drops to 45-40, and a road bridge overhead that also crosses the river.

The line between Grand Junction and Glenwood Springs runs up the ever-narrowing Colorado River valley, with mountains now on each side, but with the river and valley floor at the altitude corresponding to the uplift of the Great Plains east of the Front Range, and thus effectively still at the base of the climb over the Rockies.

Now running in close confines with the river to its south or east, in a valley bordered by tall cliffs, the line turns north-northeast, curving back and forth along the river, past a dirt road grade crossing, a detector at MP 433.5, a spur on the east side at Public Service Spur, a grade crossing that also crosses the spur and the west end of the 4,390 ft. siding at Cameo (MP 433.1-432.1), a dirt track grade crossing, Intermediate Signals, a bridge over a canal that leaves the river at a dam just east of here, a detector at MP 430.1, the curving 763 ft. Beaver Tail Tunnel (MP 428.5), the 4,660 ft. siding on the north side at Tunnel (MP 428.3-427.3), a major curve west, Intermediate Signals, north, east and north again, around a river bend, and the 6,280 ft. siding on the south (or east) side, with extra track on that side, trailing in, at Akin (MP 423.9-422.7), where the speed limit is 50-35.

As the narrow canyon opens out, the river moves away a short distance to the east, as the line passes Intermediate Signals, Gravel, a detector at MP 419.5, where the speed limit is 50 mph, and Intermediate Signals, turns north-northeast again, and passes a dirt road grade crossing, as the river returns close alongside at the west end of the 7,670 ft. siding on the south side, with a spur on the south side and a bridge over a road within the siding, at De Beque (MP 416.8-415.3). The river departs again, at the east end of the siding, with I-70 between the line and the river. After Intermediate Signals at Nigger Hill, dual I-70 bridges overhead move the highway to the north side and the river rejoins the south side. There is a 6,150 ft. siding on the north side at Una (MP 409.5-408.1), where the speed limit rises to 70-60, a bridge over drainage, a dirt road grade crossing, a detector at MP 406.5, Intermediate Signals, a dirt road grade crossing, and the 8,060 ft. siding on the south side at Grand Valley (MP 404.7-403.0), with a pedestrian bridge overhead within the siding, a short extra track on the south side, and the town of Grand Valley on both sides, whence a spur once headed west to a Union Oil Company Shale Plant, and a road bridge overhead at the east end of the town.

There is a dirt track grade crosisng east of the siding, and extra track on the west side, the line turns east and then east-northeast, still following the river, past two sets of Intermediate Signals, the 5,860 ft. siding on the north side at Dos (MP 399.7-398.5), with two dirt track grade crossings, a bridge over a road, Intermediate Signals, Rulinson, a dirt track grade crossing, Morris, the 7,050 ft. siding on the north side at Lacy (MP 391.5-390.1), a bridge over a street at the east end of the siding, dual I-70 bridges overhead as the highway crosses to the south side of the river, and a detector at MP 389.2. The line turns east, past two dirt track grade crossings, the 6,160 ft. siding on the south side at Rifle (MP 387.7-386.4), with a dirt track grade crossing, a dirt road grade crossing, and a dirt track grade crossing within the siding, where the speed limit is 50 mph right at the east end before resuming 70-60, a road bridge overhead right at the east end of the siding, a dirt track grade crossing, a dirt road grade crossing, a dirt track grade crossing, Intermediate Signals, Antlers, the 5,810 ft. siding on the north side at Silt (MP 380.2-379.0), with I-70 alongside to the south, a road bridge overhead and a grade crossing within the siding, and a detector at MP 375.4.

The Colorado Midland once left to cross the river at Gramid, running on the south side of the river before turning up the side valley towards (but not reaching Aspen), while the Rio Grande line passes Intermediate Signals at MP 377.x, a grade crossing, the 6,270 ft. siding on the south side at Newcastle (MP 375.6-372.3), where a spur on the south side trails in, I-70 running alongside to the south with the river beyond it, a road bridge overhead, Intermediate Signals at MP 360.x, a grade crossing, and the 6,940 ft. siding on the north side at Chacra (MP 368.8-367.4), where the speed limit falls to 50 mph and dual I-70 road bridges pass overhead.

Just east of the east end of Chacra, the present-day line crosses over the Rio Grande to take up the Colorado Midland alignment into Glenwood Springs, past a slide fence alongside to the south, against the cliffs, South Canyon, a grade crossing, and a detector at MP 365.0, turning almost south past Intermediate Signals at MP 364.x, a bridge over a road, the two-track yard on the southwest side of the line at West Glenwood (MP 362.2), where the Colorado Midland alignment continues due south while the main line turns east, and two sidings start, a 7,650 ft. siding (two tracks on th south side) to a signal bridge overhead at MP 360.5, a bridge over the Roaring Fork River, and a road bridge overhead, the Glenwood Springs passenger station, with its passenger siding, platform and depot on the south side of the line, with a street beyond them to the south, and a 10,790 ft. siding on the north side of the line to MP 359.7.

From Glenwood Springs, itís just seventeen miles through Glenwood Canyon to Dotsero. In 1985, earth moving for the construction of Interstate 70 had just started in Glenwood Canyon, and some slashes in the hillsides were visible from the train, but by and large the canyon still had only the railway on the south side and the two-lane US highway on the north side, both constructed without too much damage to the scenic beauty of the canyon. In 1995, however, the Interstate Highway was there in all its "glory", and the full extent of the scenic devastation was clearly visible from a train as it passed through the canyon. Getting the Interstate built required eight years of litigation and twelve years of redesign to get the authorization to build it! Today, there is a bike path all along the north side of the canyon, below the road, that is often flooded at high water.

The speed limit falls to 30-25 as the line turns northeast, with a slide fence alongside to the southeast, against the cliffs, curves east, with a slide fence on the south side right at the west end of the 1,327 ft. Glenwood Tunnel (MP 359.0), past Intermediate Signals, northeast, east, and southeast around a major river bend, east, northeast, east, and southeast around another, east past the 5,060 ft. siding on the north side at Grizzly (MP 355.6-354.6), and then north, east-northeast, north, east past a slide fence on the south side, Intermediate Signals at MP 353.2, Higby, north-northeast, with a slide fence on the east side, northeast, past the location on the far side of the river where avoiding sealing up the only access to a scenic lake high above the north side of the canyon required I-70  to bridge across the canyon (dual bridges), pass through a pair of parallel tunnels above the serial railroad tunnels, and then bridge back again (dual bridges), with a slide fence on the southeast side of the line all the way to the 134 ft. Shoshone Tunnel 2 (MP 350.9), and another slide fence on the southeast side, east of the tunnel, the 3,960ft. siding on the south side at Shoshone (MP 350.9-350.0), the second set of highway bridges overhead, and 428.5 ft. Shoshone Tunnel 1 (MP 349.9), where the canyon walls are visibly made up of thin-layered fractured rock, two separate (serial) slide fences along the south side, and the 14,250 ft. siding on the north side at Allen (MP 349.9-346.9), nearing the east end of the canyon, continuing past a bridge over a driveway, two more slide fences on the south side, Intermediate Signals at MP 345.x, near the mouth of the canyon, a detector at MP 344.6, after which the speed limit rises to 40-35, at the west end of the 6,150 ft. siding on the north side at Dotsero (MP 343.4-342.0), where the Tennessee Pass line (or what's left of it) heads east at a wye, following the Eagle River, and the present-day main line takes the Dotsero Cutoff to the north, following the Colorado Rover.