ROLLINS PASS ROUTE photos Click here to return to the index.
Before the Moffat Tunnel was opened in 1928, trains on the Denver & Salt Lake Railroad had to cross the Continental Divide via Rollins Pass at an elevation of about 11,670 feet. This was the highest railroad pass in America. The Rollins Pass route had three tunnels on it, which would be numbered 31, 32, and 33. Tunnel 32 is the famous Needle's Eye Tunnel located above treeline roughly 1 mile from the pass on the east side of the divide. Tunnel 33 is located on the west side of the divide several miles from the pass. It was known as the Riflesight Notch Tunnel. Tunnel 31 was not lucky enough to get a name and was located on the lower section of the route on the east side. Just east of Rollins Pass, several trestles were built and were known as the Devil's Slide Trestles. At the pass itself, a small service town was built called Corona. The tracks (and wye) at the pass were covered by wooden snow sheds. Remants of the buildings and the snow sheds are still evident.

Today the roadbed remains only as a recreational trail. Tunnels 31 and 33 are caved in; Tunnel 32 (Needle's Eye) was blocked off in 1993 after people were injured (or killed?) due to falling rock (although the tunnel is still intact). Unfortunately, due to the terrain this closed the road as a car route between East Portal and Winter Park.

Picture Location Date Description / Notes
Rollins Pass route 8/21/99 Here are the remnants of an old wooden water tower left on the Rollins Pass route near Tunnel 31. Rumor has it the tower was still standing until the early 1990s.
Rollins Pass route 8/21/99 Another shot of the collapsed water tower.
Rollins Pass route 8/21/99 The only halfway-intact part of the old water tower.
Rollins Pass route 6/18/00 Here's a view of the roadbed curving around the perimeter of Yankee Doodle Lake. Note the snowboarders on the snow field trying to make the most of the last remaining snow in the summertime.
Rollins Pass route 7/4/01 It's the 4th of July and there's still a good amount of snow left above treeline!
Rollins Pass route 6/18/00 This is the view looking east from Needle's Eye Tunnel. Yankee Doodle Lake is below. That tailings pile in the lake is the debris from construction of a railroad tunnel for the Denver, Utah & Pacific Railway. DU&P ran out of money before the tunnel could be completed.
Rollins Pass route 6/18/00 The eastern-most of the two Devil's Slide trestles. This view is looking west.
Rollins Pass route 6/18/00 Same trestle as above, only now we're looking west. By the way, that warning sign is only on this side, so I didn't see it until I was already across the trestle. You could still drive your car over these things until the early 1980s
Rollins Pass route 6/18/00 The western-most of the two Devil's Slide trestles, viewed looking west.
Rollins Pass route 7/4/01 Another shot of the western trestle, this time we're viewing it from the west side looking east. The fact that they built a railroad line across such rugged terrain is truly a testament to old-school railroad engineering.
Rollins Pass (Corona) 7/4/01 View of Rollins Pass and the Corona site. The eastern part of the line comes in across the snowfield on the right. The old wye location and snowshed remnants can still be seen. Next summer I'll go back up here to get some more shots from Corona.

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All photos by MATT HANNES unless noted. Any other images used on this page are used with permission of the original photographer.

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