The Denver and Rio Grande Railroad extended a rail line into the Wet Mountain Valley in 1881 to take advantage of Silver Cliff’s mining boom. The line ended one mile west of Silver Cliff at a new depot, around which Wet Mountain Valley residents built Westcliffe, a true railroad town.
The mining camps and the railroad are now gone, but the town of Westcliffe survives along with All Aboard Westcliffe, an interpretive center and railroad museum filled with historic artifacts and memorabilia showcasing Custer County’s rich railroad history.
A former freight warehouse on Rosita Street serves as All Aboard Westcliffe’s headquarters and a community meeting space, while a 1901 engine house next door is its museum. Refurbished rail cars and a historic wagon sit outside, while a model of the Wet Mountain Valley, a model railroad, a variety of artifacts, a Google Earth collage and dozens of photos fill the engine house.
Another All Aboard Westcliffe location, the Depot on Main, was originally at the heart of the transportation of goods and of tourism to the Wet Mountain Valley. After the railroad discontinued service, the building served as businesses and a residence until it was obtained through a collaborative effort of the Colorado State Historical Foundation, All Aboard Westcliffe, the Town of Westcliffe and concerned individuals in 2013. A full restoration of its 1920’s decor was completed by 2018.
Explore Custer County’s intriguing railroad stories at both All Aboard Westcliffe museum locations, open Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Memorial Day through Labor Day.
All Aboard Westcliffe