Rio Grande Passenger Trains

Last Update: 3-23-2008

Note: This list of D&RGW passenger trains will be added to as conditions permit. The descriptions will be expanded upon within the subject web pages. {Note - some "generic" pages will be replaced with more specific pages as time permits]

The Atlantic Coast Limited (train 2) inaugurated 1909 and ran between Salt Lake City and Denver (train 1 was The Pacific Coast Limited)

The California Zephyr (trains 17 & 18) was inaugurated on March 21, 1949, replacing the Exposition Flyer as the joint train with the CB&Q and WP between Chicago and Oakland. The train's last run was on March 23, 1970. Remnants of the route continued to be served on the Rio Grande by the Rio Grande Zephyr and on the Burlington by The California Service.

The Chicago - San Francisco Express (train 5) ran from Denver to Ogden (train 4 the San Francisco - Chicago Express, ran from Ogden to Denver)

The Colorado-New Mexico Express / Colorado, New Mexico & Utah Express (trains 15 & 16) - Inaugurated as trains running from Denver to Grand Junction, these trains mutated to unnamed trains running from Denver to Alamosa. Known as the connection to various narrow gauged passenger trains at Salida with connections to Alamosa & Montrose

The Colorado Eagle (trains 3 & 4) was mainly a Missouri Pacific train, but was handled from Pueblo to Denver by the Rio Grande. Inaugurated on June 21, 1942 and last run on May 16, 1966.

The Colorado Springs, Pueblo & Eastern Express (train 11) ran from Denver to Pueblo (train 12, the St. Louis, Pueblo & Denver Express, ran from Pueblo to Denver)

The Denver Express (train 4) was started in May 1880 and ran between Leadville and Denver (train 3, the Leadville Express ran from Denver to Leadville)

The Denver Passenger (train 6) ran from Durango to Denver (train 5, the Durango Express ran from Denver to Durango)

The Durango Express (train 5) ran between Denver and Durango in 1881.

The Eastern Express (train 4) ran between Gunnison and Denver starting in 1881 (train 3, the Gunnison Express ran between Denver and Gunnison).

The Exposition Flyer (trains 5 & 6) was named for the Golden Gate International Exposition and was the first through train run jointly by the CB&Q, D&RGW and WP between Chicago and Oakland. Inaugurated on June 11, 1939 it ran well past its expected temporary life span and its last run was March 20, 1949 (being replaced by the California Zephyr).

The Gunnison Express (train 3) ran between Denver and Gunnison starting in 1881 (train 4, the Eastern Express ran between Gunnison and Denver).

The Leadville Express (train 3) was started in May, 1880 and ran between Denver and Leadville (train 4, the Denver Express ran from Leadville to Denver)

The Marysville Passenger (trains 511 & 512) ran on the Marysville branch in Utah.

The Mountaineer (trains 19 & 20) began operations on July 1, 1936 as an overnight train between Denver and Montrose. It was cut back to a Denver - Grand Junction train before its last run on October 24, 1959.

The Pacific Express / Pacific Coast Express (trains 7, 1) started operationApril 22, 1883 between Denver and Salt Lake City (trains 8,2 the Atlantic Express operated from Salt Lake City to Denver). This train ran via Pueblo, Salida, Marshall Pass, Gunnison, Montrose, Grand Junction, Green River, Price and Provo. The trains were renamed Paciic Coast Express (in anticipation of the rerouting via Tennessee Pass) in February of 1889 and renumbered to 1 & 2 on May 19, 1889.

The Pacific Coast Limited (train 1) Inaugurated in 1909, this train ran between Denver and Salt Lake City (train 2, the Atlantic Coast Limited, ran between Salt Lake City and Denver).

The Panoramic (trains 5 & 6, 7 & 8, 19 & 20) began operation on June 1, 1924 and continued in seasonal service to varying points with varying names until its ultimate discontinuance on September 24, 1939.

The Prospector (trains 7 & 8) went through four life cycles, from its initial inaugural date of November 17, 1948 as a set of two two-unit self-propelled trains to a rename of the Advance Exposition Flyer in 1945 to the newly painted equipment in 1946 to the new Pullman-Standard-built equipment in 1950. As a Denver-Salt Lake City train, it lasted to May 28, 1967.

The Pueblo Express (trains 5 & 6) ran between Denver and Pueblo.

The Pueblo Express (train 19) ran between Denver and Pueblo.

The Rio Grande Zephyr (trains 17 & 18) Operated on a tri-weekly schedule between Denver and Salt Lake City from March 23, 1970 through April 24, 1983. This train had the dubious honor of replacing the CB&Q-D&RGW-WP California Zephyr and being replaced by the Amtrak California Zephyr (renamed when the San Francisco Zephyr, that had been routed through Wyoming began running through the Rockies again).

The Royal Gorge (trains 1 & 2) was, at the time of its origin on June 2, 1946 a train that had counterparts on the MP and WP (and carried through cars from/to those other trains). By the time of its discontinuance on July 27, 1967, the D&RGW's Royal Gorge was a Denver-Salida train.

The San Francisco - Chicago Express (train 4) ran between Ogden and Denver.

The San Juan (trains 115 & 116) was a narrow gauge train that ran from Alamosa to Durango. It started operations on February 11, 1937 and continued to January 31, 1951.

The San Luis (trains 15 & 16) began operations on June 1, 1951, giving a name to the day train left over from the San Juan Pueblo-Alamosa connector train. It left the timetable June 2, 1953.

The Scenic Limited (trains 1 & 2) was another train that operated in conjunction with the MP and WP operating between Denver and Salt Lake City (on the D&RGW), but with through cars not as a through train. The train began operations 1906, and was on and off the time table though 1915. It was discontinued on June 1, 1946. The D&RGW portion became the Royal Gorge, the MP portion became the Colorado Eagle.

The Shavano (trains 315 & 316) was another narrow gauge train, this one operated between Salida and Gunnison, originating on April 9, 1937 and being discontinued November 24, 1940.

The Silverton (trains 461 & 462) was a narrow gauge train from Durango to Silverton, originating on June 24, 1947 as a summer only train for tourists. It continually outperformed most, if not all, other passenger trains on the railroad. On March 25, 1981, the line and equipment was sold and it became the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.

The St. Louis Express (trains 11 &12), ran between Pueblo to Denver carrying Missouri Pacific cars during the daytime.

The St. Louis, Pueblo & Denver Express (train 12), ran from Pueblo to Denver (train 11, the Colorado Springs, Pueblo & Eastern Express ran from Denver to Pueblo.

The Suburban / Uncle Sam started in January 1889 as a 2 car train runing the 10.5 miles between Burnham and Wolhurst (Littleton / Fort Logan). Train continued for 35 years to April 1924. The short single end spur at the end of track number 1 at Union Station typically used by visiting business cars was known as the Uncle Sam spur carries on the name.

The Westerner (trains 3 & 4) began in 1926 as a seasonal train and became a connecting train from Denver to Pueblo to Missouri Pacific Trains October 11, 1932. This service was replaced by "the Sparrow" - the unnamed trains 3 & 4 between Denver & Pueblo.

The Yampa Valley Mail (trains 9 & 10) began life as Denver & Salt Lake trains 9 & 10 between Denver and Craig. When the D&SL was merged into the D&RGW, the day & night trains were eventually combined into a single daytime train called the Yampa Valley Mail. When the U.S. Post Office removed the mail contract (but not the RPO) October 31, 1963, the train became the Yampa Valley. It was discontinued April 7. 1968.


[Note: A complete list of all D&RG / D&RGW named passenger trains consists of over 180 names! This page will start with those trains that were extant between 1881 and 1980 and lasted for a little while. Note that a lot of trains used the same numbers repeatedly, while changing names and end points.]


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