1904 Map of the Denver and Rio Grande and the Rio Grande Western System by Rand McNally & Co.

This map details the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad. First published in 1885, this map is updated to 1904. The map extends as far west to include Marysville, Silver City, Salt Lake City and Ogden. The map is one that was published in several iterations throughout the late 19th and early 20th century, tracking the Denver & Rio Grande Railway’s development and track growth. This particular edition is updated to include further expansion of the rail lines, from Leadville to Grand Junction, Montrose to Ouray, and several other spoke lines.

In stunning and precise detail, all topography is graphically depicted via hachure. The map indicates by color, which lines are standard gauge (red), narrow gauge (black), and three rail (red and black striped).

The Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad was an American Class I railroad company, running south and west from Denver, Colorado in 1870. It served mainly as a transcontinental bridge line between Denver and Salt Lake City. As such, the D & RG was a major origin of coal and mineral traffic. Perhaps no other major American railroad enjoyed such a colorful and captivating history like the Denver & Rio Grande Western. The company’s visionary was General William J. Palmer, a decorated U.S. Army officer of the Civil War. Palmer imagined something that had never before been attempted- a corridor piercing the heart of the Rocky Mountains.  He hoped the D & RG would someday link Denver with the Mexican border, reach the San Juan mining district, and head west to Salt Lake City.

As a means of reducing costs, Palmer pioneered the 3-foot, narrow-gauge concept.  It became a highly popular alternative to standard-gauge rights-of-way during the late 19th century. Ultimately, the D & RGW failed to reach Mexico but is credited with opening the largest and most successful narrow-gauge network in the United States. At its height in the mid-1880s, the D&RGW had the largest narrow-gauge railroad network in North America with 2,783 miles of track.


Good condition overall. Paper is healthy, with no signs of foxing or stains. Original fold lines present. A few tiny splits at fold intersections, which have been stabilized. Printed color is original to the map, with tan used to show topography and red and black to show line types and major train junctions. Map dimensions are 13 1/2 ” H x 19 3/16” W.

Map is artfully and archivally presented with black linen top mat and a custom-built wood frame.

Framed dimensions: 10 1/4" H x 28" W x 1" D.

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