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Re: [CBQ] Denver Market Street Line

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Subject: Re: [CBQ] Denver Market Street Line
From: "HOL WAGNER" <>
Date: Fri, 8 Oct 2021 17:00:29 +0000
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Thread-topic: [CBQ] Denver Market Street Line

Sorry for the delay in responding, but I've been traveling and on my return basically forgot about your request.  I've been a resident of the Denver area (currently Arvada) since 1949 and am quite familiar with the Burlington's Market Street line.  It dates back to early in the 20th century when both the Burlington and Union Pacific sought to serve the warehouse and industrial district going up along Blake and Market streets just east of lower downtown.  But city council approval for tracks down the city streets was needed before anything could be built, and there was as much opposition to the idea as there was support, so approval was slow in coming.   Approval for the UP to build its tracks down one or both sides of Blake Street came within a couple of years but it was 1911 before the OK came for the Burlington to build down Market Street (which was and is Walnut Street northeast of 23rd Street).  For the Union Pacific it was a simple task to reach Blake Street, as it already had industrial and yard trackage within a block of that street.  But for the Burlington it was a different matter, as its trackage was all on the far (north) side of the UP yards and mainline track to Kansas City.  Initially the Burlington planned to start for Market/Walnut Street from its 38th Street freight yard, crossing UP trackage along the way.  But the Burlington was anxious to provide service to the industrial district developing farther east and north of the downtown area.  So the company instead planned a line starting at what became known as Sand Creek Junction and proceeding south and east before reaching Walnut Street at its northeast end.  Sand Creek Junction was (and still is) a few hundred yards beyond the point where the Burlington mainline out of Denver , heading for Omaha and Chicago, crosses the Union Pacific mainline heading north from Denver to Cheyenne.  Sand Creek was crossed by both railroads at this point also, thus the name.  The Market Street line veered south off the Burlington mainline and itself crossed Sand Creek just over half a mile from the junction with the mainline.  Construction began in 1912, and initially there were not many industries to serve out in this area beyond the Denver city limits.  But the railroad had purchased a considerable amount of vacant land in the area with plans for a future industrial district.  It was June 1913 before construction began in earnest on the major portion of the line, which ran south all the way to 40th Avenue, crossing beneath the UP Kansas City mainline (still generally known as the Kansas Pacific for its original builder) at 41st Avenue.  Once across 40th Avenue the track turned west along the 39th Avenue alignment and continued on past York Street to the initial point of Walnut Street.  From that point all the way to 20th Street, a track was laid on each side of the street, and a connection was installed between 27th and 28th streets with UP's Blake Street trackage.  One map shows the tracks reaching 18th St.  Before what became known as the Market Street line was even begun, the Burlington and Union Pacific reached an agreement for joint operation of both the Blake Street and Market Street trackage (but only that portion of the Burlington line west of York Street).  Construction of the Burlington trackage, under the direction of McCook Division engineer A.J. Palmer, continued through 1913 and into the first quarter of 1914 before the work was completed.  This including trying to work through the worst snowstorm on record in Denver, the infamous blizzard of December 1913.  I have in my collection the work diary of civil engineer Palmer, and his daily entries between December 4 and January 2 clearly relate the difficulty of attempting to work,  beginning with "No work. Snow." on December 4 and "No work. Snow. Blizzard." on the 5th.  His men began to be pulled off the construction work in an effort to keep other portions of the railroad open, and then the street trackage they were building:  
   Dec. 6, "Gang working on Main Line clearing track from snow.  Concrete gang clearing off snow.  2 men."  
   Dec. 7, "Gang on Main Line at Roundhouse clearing snow."  
   Dec. 10, "Gang shovel snow, Stock Yards."  "Snow Plow cleans off [engineering stations] 1450 and 1455 to 35th St."  
   Dec. 12, "Gang shoveling snow Public Xings and switches, 1450-55."  "Concrete gang on forms W. Abutment [UP bridge].  Shoveling snow 1450-55 switches, No. side 35th to 36th."  
   Dec. 13,  "Gang clearing switches 1455."  "Concrete gang building forms W. Abut. UP Bridge."  "8 Men shoveling Snow No. Side 34th to 36th."
   Dec. 16, "Gang shoveling snow 1477.  Gang shoveling snow 23rd & Market St.  2 teams hauling snow."  "Concrete gang building forms W. Abut. UP bridge."  "Gang shoveling snow 28th-33rd."
   Dec. 19, "Snow."  "Gang clearing snow 23rd & Market.  Quit at noon."  "Snow hauling, 3 teams."  "Concrete gang on W. Abut. protecting it from snow."
   Dec. 22, "Gang clearing snow 23rd St., 9 men, 3 teams."  "Concrete gang building forms East Abutment UP Br."
   Dec. 25, "Christmas.  No work."
  Dec. 26, "Light snow all day."  "Gang shoveling ice, etc, to get train through to pick up empties 36th to 29th."  "Engine over [track] 2 p.m., out 6 p.m.  Ice bad over rails."  "Concrete gang on Bridge covering West Abut, fixing broken water pipe 1/2 day."
   Dec. 30, "Gang clearing snow off track No. Side 29th to 36th."  "Concrete gang concreted 4 ft. West Abutment."  "Gas Co. working between 24th and 26th crossing under track So. Side 25th with new main."
   Dec. 31, "Gang clearing snow off track 36th to 29th.  No track [laid.]"  "Concrete gang concreted 4 ft. West Abutment UP bridge."  "Ties in 43rd & 46th Ave."
   Jan. 1, "Gang shoveling snow 1455 & 1477, 36th to 35th."  "Concrete gang concreted 4 ft West Abutment UP bridge."  "R. & S. unloading brick at 23rd & Market."  
   Jan. 2, "Gang -- 2 men shovel snow 1477.  6 men curving rail 1477.  2 men clearing track 28th to 23rd 1455."  "Concrete gang concreted 7 feet West Abut. UP bridge."  "Bailey finished 23rd St. bridge."  "Engine went to 23rd to pull out empty car."

At any rate, I've rambled long enough.  I would be interested in seeing your photography on Market St.  I have long considered doing an article for the BRHS Burlington Bulletin on the line, but the lack of photos has been a detriment to the idea.  I have two railfan friends who did photograph the line at night in the 1980s-early '90s and are scanning their images for me.

Hope this has been helpful.

Hol Wagner
Arvada, Colo.

From: <> on behalf of Bryan Howell via <>
Sent: Tuesday, September 7, 2021 9:27 PM
To: <>
Subject: [CBQ] Denver Market Street Line


The BRHS received a message on their Facebook page from a photographer looking for information. The message is below. Please include Diane on any responses.

Hello! I am putting together a book of my photos from 1978 showing rails in the streets of Lower Downtown Denver... With a few boxcars as well. I know that both C&S and BN crews serviced those neighborhood warehouses in the 70s. I'm trying to find more information about the Market St. Line. Any ideas? The rails were pulled up or covered over in the 80s, I believe. Any information is welcome!

Diane Rabson


Bryan J. Howell
Superior, WI

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