1885 Denver and Rio Grande System by Rand McNally & Co with Alabaster Hall Engraving

This map details the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad and was published in 1885. The map extends as far west to include Grand Junction, Green River, and Salt Lake City. The map is one that was published in several iterations throughout the late 19th century, tracking the Denver & Rio Grande Railway’s development and track growth. This particular 1885 edition is updated to include further expansion of the rail lines, primarily in the profitable mining districts.

In stunning and precise detail, all topography is graphically depicted via hachure. The map includes an inset map at bottom that shows the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad crossing from Denver to Sacramento, extending all the way to the Pacific Ocean. There is also a small engraving at the bottom of the map, depicting Alabaster Hall, located in the Manitou Springs' Grand Caverns.

The Denver & Rio Grande 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 & RG 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&RG had the largest narrow-gauge railroad network in North America with 2,783 miles of track.


This map is in very good condition. Paper is healthy, with no signs of foxing or stains. The map is a clean and bright example. Original fold lines present. Printed tan color is original to the map, and used to show topography.

Map is artfully and archivally presented with beaded fillet, linen top mat, and custom-built beaded wood frame in brushed gold.

Framed Dimensions: 23 3/4" H x 27" W x 1 5/8" D

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