• 2-13-1889 – Hundreds of men will soon be at work on the new Alpine tunnel now being surveyed. The length of the tunnel will be three and one-half miles, and will probably be run, commencing at Hancock, under the old one. However, there is a scheme to run the tunnel further north, bringing the railroad within five miles of Tin Cup. From reliable sources it looks to us as though the tunnel was a sure thing. This will make a large sized boom for St. Elmo. Buena Vista Democrat
– A correspondent of the News writes from Alpine as follows: “The account of the recent survey made by A.M. Gibson and party, of the Union Pacific railway surveyors, for a new tunnel west of Hancock, was in some respects wrong. The new survey leaves he present South Park track near Romley, and the tunnel starts in about half a mile west of Hancock, coming out on the west side of the range half a mile below Woodstock, at the mouth of Tunnel gulch, making the length of tunnel one and a half miles, from 800 to 900 feet lower that the present one. It is not anticipated, however, that any work will be done this season on the tunnel.
It is said that work opening the Alpine tunnel will commence on the 15th and that trains will be running March 1. This is probably the last winter that the South Park will close its line. If no other extensions are made during the coming summer the road will probably be built to the anthracite coal beds, the great and growing scarcity and constantly increasing demand for that kind of coal will warrant unusual exertions on the part of the Union Pacific company to keep the South Park open the year around. It is also rumored that a passenger, mail and express train will be put on at an early date. The Aspen Chronicle
A whole lot in this newspaper article about what might have been on the UP (DL&G). Frankly this is the first time I have found anything documenting an alternate to the Alpine Tunnel.
Going online to Colorado Historic Newspapers there was no 2-13-89 the issue was on the 14th and I saw no mention of the news story in it.Could you have copied the date wrong?Also there is no date given for the Aspen paper.
At some point, Jay Gould had his hooks in both the South Park
and D&RG. It was a rapid fire dance of agreements and who controlled
what from late 1880 to 1884. I have always been of the opinion that
historical accounts overlook a whole bunch of under-the-table game
playing for why things happened the way they did between these two
players and Gould. And why the UP ownership did not make more
effort to maximize market share out of Leadville. I think we South
Park fans tend to be a bit rosy-eyed about our beloved line, while
Omaha saw business strategy differently and went slack on the South
Park for "other options".
If one reads enough in the old newspapers, one often comes across an article that helps illuminate the basis for the early articles. In this case the editor of the Aspen Daily Times finally stumbles across the answer for all the activity by the UP during this effort.
I provide you with what the locals found out in April of 1889.
• 4-18-1889 – UNION PACIFIC OFFICIALS – Vice-President Wm. C. Holcomb, and son, Thomas L. Kimball, general manager, and Ed Dickerson, assistant general manager, J.K. Choate, superintendent of the Colorado division, and E.T. Buckingham, car accountant, all of the Union Pacific railway company, rolled into the D&RG years yesterday noon, spent the day in Aspen and went out on a special attached to the regular Denver express over the Colorado Midland railway. These officials, it is reported on good authority were here for the purpose of seeing Aspen, gathering statistics and learning enough to decide whether it would be profitable to build the extension of the UP road across Independence range from Leadville this season. Their whole time while here was occupied in getting points about the business and traffic of Aspen. They kept the fact of their presence in our city as quiet as possible, but called upon agent Frank Smith of the D&RG road and had a long talk with him. With the exception of President Charles Francis Adams, the gentlemen who were here yesterday are most prominent officials of the Union Pacific Railway Company. A Times representative learned that the gentlemen had with them the maps profiles and specifications reported by the engineers after completing the survey across the Independence range last fall. The UP people have considerable coal land in the New Empire, and probably in addition to reaching Aspen desire to construct an outlet for their coal property. Aspen Daily Times
I didn't realize that the UP owned coal lands in Western Colorado. I suspect something else will pop up in the future, but it appears the UP folks were serious enough to send out an executive committee to determine if it was worth the effort.
More findings on the Union Pacific march into Western Colorado, that of course never happened, but is well documented in the late 1880s by the newspapers in Aspen.
• 4-20-1889 – THE UNION PACIFIC – Mention was made in a recent issue of The Chronicle of the arrival in Aspen of a party of Union Pacific officials. Their plans were kept a profound secret and it was impossible to learn from them anything in regard to the action their company proposed to take regarding the building of their road to Aspen. It is evident, however, that they did not come merely for the purpose of seeing Aspen. Out of curiosity, and since the proposed appointment of a union agent for the Midland and Rio Grande roads at Aspen, Leadville, Glenwood, New Castle and Buena Vista, it would seem as if the Union Pacific would be compelled in order to protect its Colorado business to build a road to Aspen. They already have the shortest line from Leadville to Denver, the South Park thought Mosquito pass, and by building a road through Independence pass they could make the round trip from Aspen to Denver is a little over twenty-four hours. Developments will be looked for with interest by Aspenites in this important movement, should it be finally decided upon by the Union Pacific directors. The Aspen Chronicle
The Editor of the Aspen Chronicle really seems to be hoping for this growth.