The Fort Worth and Denver Railway , nicknamed "the Denver Road," was a Class I American railroad company that operated in the northern part of Texas from 1881 to 1982, and had a profound influence on the early settlement and economic development of the region.
The Fort Worth and Denver City Railway Company (FW&DC) was chartered by the Texas legislature on May 26, 1873. The company would later change its name to the Fort Worth and Denver Railway Company (FW&D) on August 7, 1951.〔(Handbook of Texas Online - FORT WORTH AND DENVER RAILWAY )〕
The main line of the railroad ran from Fort Worth through Wichita Falls, Childress, Amarillo, and Dalhart, to Texline, where it connected with the rails of parent company Colorado and Southern Railway, both of which became subsidiaries of the Burlington Route in 1908.
At the end of 1970 FW&D operated 1201 miles of road on 1577 miles of track; that year it reported 1493 million ton-miles of revenue freight. (Those totals may or may not include the former Burlington-Rock Island Railroad.) In 1980 operated mileage had dropped to 1181 but ton-miles were 7732 million: the tide of coal had begun.
The Panic of 1873 delayed the start of construction until 1881 when Grenville M. Dodge became interested in the project. As chief engineer for the Union Pacific Railroad Dodge had played a large part in the construction of the First Transcontinental Railroad. Dodge organized the Texas and Colorado Railway Improvement Company in 1881 to build and equip the FW&DC in return for $20,000 in stock and $20,000 in bonds for each mile of track laid. In the same year The FW&DC and the Denver and New Orleans Railroad Company, organized in Colorado, agreed to connect their systems at the Texas-New Mexico border. The FW&DC received no state subsidy other than the right-of-way easements to cross state-owned lands totaling .〔
Beginning construction at Hodge Junction, just north of Fort Worth, on November 27, 1881, by September 1882 Dodge had completed of track to Wichita Falls, Texas. By 1885 the line reached Harrold; by 1886, Chillicothe; by 1887 Clarendon and Amarillo;〔(Texas Historical Marker - Fort Worth and Denver City Railway, First Railroad through the Texas Panhandle )〕 and by 1888 Texline on the New Mexico border. Continuing into the New Mexico Territory the FW&DC finally linked with the D&NO where the railheads met at Union Park, near present-day Folsom, New Mexico, from Fort Worth, on March 14, 1888.〔
Service between Fort Worth and Denver began on April 1, 1888. In 1895 Dodge became president of the company, one of several railroads he held a financial interest in.〔(Fort Worth and Denver Railway Company: An Inventory of Photographs, undated, at the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library )〕
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