Trail Ridge Road Completion – Rocky Mountain National Park CO

City:
Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Site Type:
Parks and Recreation, Park Roads and Bridges

New Deal Agencies:
Bureau of Public Roads (BPR), Public Works Funding

Started:
1933

Completed:
1936

Quality of Information:
Very Good

Marked:
No

Site Survival:
Partially Extant

Description

Trail Ridge Road is the main route across Rocky Mountain National Park It is a marvel of highway engineering and provides stunning views of the park, particularly as it traverses the alpine regions above timber line. The road is 48 miles long and its summit near the Alpine Ranger Station is over 12,000 feet.  It is the highest continuous paved road in North America and is now a National Scenic Byway.

Trail Ridge Road was built by the Bureau of Public Roads (BPR) and its contractors in 1929-32, to replace the old Fall River road.  It was a fully engineered, graded and graveled road by 1932, but not yet entirely finished.  Further work to complete the road was approved in late 1932 and took place from 1933 to 1936, under the New Deal. 

The first stage consisted of adding 3 to 8 inches of gravel bedding, followed by oiling.  This work covered the 29 miles through the high country from the Colorado River to Horseshoe Park and was completed in 1934. Surfacing was done by Everly & Allison of Albuquerque NM and cost $119,000. 

Subsequently, bituminous paving (asphalt) was added over the new road bed in 1935 by C.V. Hallenbeck Company of Denver CO. Hallenbeck also did much of the needed maintenance work where the harsh winters and spring runoff had revealed weakness in the road bed and adjoining slopes. In various places, drainage was improved, road bed reconstructed, and slopes reinforced.

Maintenance (including snow removal) from 1934 to 1936 cost $64,900 and was carried out under the direction of the BPR, with the helped of unskilled labor recruited from the unemployment rolls in Larimer County.

At the time of its construction, Trail Ridge Road was still known as the Fall River Pass Road and State Highway 1 (now State Highway 34).

 

Source notes

W.L Lafferty, Final Construction Report (1933-34) on Fall River National Park Highway, Project 1-A-B-C, Surfacing.  US Department of Agriculture: Bureau of Public Roads, District #3.  April 23, 1935.

W.L. Lafferty, Final Post Construction and Maintenance Report (1934-36) on Fall River Pass National Park Highway, Project 1-A-B-C.  US Department of Agriculture: Bureau of Public Roads, District #3.  March 9, 1937

Amy Law, A Natural History of Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountain National Park's Highway to the Sky. Charleston SC: The History Press, 2014.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trail_Ridge_Road/Beaver_Meadow_National_Scenic_Byway

 

 


 

Site originally submitted by Richard Walker on August 19, 2022.

Site Details

Federal CostTotal Cost
$180.00 $180.00

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