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Three man made dams manage the river water flow along with electric generators to harness the power supplying electricity to the surrounding cities, and the United States power grid.
An historic narrow gauge railroad was constructed starting in the mid 1800's. This Durango and Rio Grande Railroad operated full time from 1882 to 1949 when the track was decommissioned. The track, bridges, and supporting equipment was torn up, grade paved into vehicle roadway or submerged in water by the new dams. Only this Engine #278 and the original trestle bridge remain as an outdoor exhibit. Unfortunately, the National Park Service, U. S. Department of the Interior, is allowing the engine to fall into disrepair.
This railroad was a very important part of the development of western Colorado. It carried cattle for the east, agricultural products, and mining equipment. The paved road you see in the image is the old railroad bed.