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P. R. “Bob” Griswold sent us this interesting article, excerpted from The University of Denver magazine, Fall 2001 edition, by Rosemary Fetter.

Bob Griswold, BS’54 can give you the real story behind every railroad in Colorado. A writer, historian and collector of rail lore for the past 60 years, he’s ridden the posh Aztec Eagle into Mexico City, the bizarre train/bus/auto called the “Galloping Goose” and the last passenger train to Cripple Creek in 1949. He’s been the guest of the Southern Pacific of Mexico president in his elegant private rail car and traveled on the Durango & Silverton “when it was still a real train.”

At 79, Griswold is also Denver’s oldest streetcar operator. Once a week he can be found at the helm of the Platte Valley Trolley, a popular local attraction that transports sightseers from the Platte Valley downtown nearly to Lakewood. “It’s a replica of the old ‘Seeing Denver” tourist trolley...Although the streetcar itself was built in Iowa eight year ago, the controls on both ends date back to the 1920s — antiques from Melbourne Australia.”

Griswold has the railroad in his blood, or at least on his family tree. His grandfather was a Union Pacific architect who designed railroad stations at Julesberg, Colo. and Grand Island, Neb., among others. Griswold’s interest in railroads dates back to his grade school days in Ohio. “I liked riding the streetcars and the Cleveland Southwester Interurban, but what really got me interested in railroads was the skeleton of the old Ohio Railroad. The Ohio was a stilt railway started in 1840, with wood rails that stopped abruptly in the middle of the woods between Cleveland and Toledo. After I did some research, I discovered the reason: it went bankrupt before it was completed. No trains ever ran on it.”

Small railroad lines continued to intrigue Griswold after his family moved to Colorado in 1937. He delved into the state’s rich rail history and even worked for the railroad during the summers. After graduating from DU with a degree in business administration, he pursued railroading as a hobby while employed … at the Continental Oil Co. He took early retirement in 1965 to turn his beloved avocation into a second career. Over the past 20 years, Griswold has written six books on Colorado rail history.

Books by P.R. “Bob” Griswold

  • The Denver & Salt Lake Railroad, 1913-1926
  • Georgetown & The Loop
  • David Moffat’s Denver, Northwestern & Pacific: The Moffat Road

All published by the Rocky Mountain Railroad Club

  • Colorado Traveler: Railroads of Colorado
  • Arizona Traveler: Guidebook’s Arizona Railroads
  • Railroads of California: Seeing The State By Rail

All published by Renaissance Publications

Wesley Griswold wrote a book A Work Of Giants: Building The First Transcontinental Railroad: McGraw Hill, 1962.
(Do you have a copy for sale?  Please email information to
Excerpted from Nothing Like It In The World: The Central Pacific Attacks The Sierra Nevada

“ The engineers decided, early in 1865, to build trestles. When the railroad was finished, earth could be hauled in by train and the trestles replaced by fills. In historian Wesley Griswold’s phrase, the trestles stood like ‘transfixed centipedes, straddling the gaps in the ridge with their massive multiple pairs of legs from immense pines, planted at 16-foot intervals, their feet braced in masonry.’ The trestles, whose support timbers were called ‘bents’ by the engineers, came originally from hundreds of thousands of feet of lumber cut in coastal forests of the Northwest, brought to the site by schooner and flatcar. .. The bridges that were built out of sturdy timber and laced together and steadied by rows of horizontal beams looked like many-legged structures. Their spindly appearance scared hell out of the passengers, who gazed down as much as a hundred feet (at Deep Gulch, for example). Still the bridges managed to stand the weight of a locomotive and cars. ‘The boom of the power blast is continually heard,’ the Auburn Stars & Stripes reported. ‘Frowning embankments rise as if by magic. High trestle bridges spring up in a week.’ ”


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Last update: January 26, 2011

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