[Floodgap Roadgap presents the Summer of 6]

Floodgap Roadgap's Summer of 6 -- U.S. Highway 6, U.S. Highway 6, Part 12: US 6 in Colorado (Glenwood Springs to Minturn; Garfield County, Eagle County)

Go to: Part 11 | Main US 6 page | Part 13

We start this section in the city of Glenwood Springs, moving onto the Glenwood Canyon, both named for the town of Glenwood, Iowa. Glenwood Springs, originally named Defiance, was established as a frontier mining town in 1883 by Isaac Cooper. Its situation on the confluence of the Colorado River and its tributary, the Roaring Fork River, made it a local centre of commerce and later an important railroad stop. Like many such towns, the harsh name and the hard-bitten clientele made existence within it more difficult for the genteel, and Cooper's wife Sarah petitioned the town council to change the name to Glenwood Springs after her hometown (presumably to make it more attractive to the higher-heeled). Nearby coal and later hydroelectric power made it one of the first cities in the United States to have electric lights, in 1897. Severely limited by obvious geographic constraints, the modern city is today primarily a tourist centre for the mountain resorts. It has a population of 9,677 [2012].

Glenwood Canyon was formed by the upper Colorado River north of the city, a 13 mile stretch with canyon walls as high as 2,000' above the waterline. The obvious routing for the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad during its construction, and the only reliable way for wagon teams to cross to and from the western portion of the state, it later became the routing of the 1902 gravel Taylor State Road between Denver and Grand Junction and subsequently adopted into US 6 in 1937. The construction of Interstate 70 through this stretch posed unique engineering challenges to preserve the Canyon's incredible natural beauty, requiring twelve years of construction and $490 million in funding to open in 1992. Overall, the project required 30 million pounds of structural steel, 30 million pounds of reinforcing steel and 400,000 cubic yards of concrete weighing 1.62 billion pounds. In 1993, it received the Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers. Unfortunately, a rain squall ruined much of my opportunities for photography at the time, so the sequence shown here cannot hope to do this incredible highway feat justice.

US 6

Segment 006K in Glenwood Springs is a strange routing and discontinuous on the west end where the Interstate overran it, reflected in its official mile count between 0 [sic] and 0.338 which does not incorporate US 6's total mileage to this point. It seems to have been shortened by CDOT since these pictures were taken in 2006, although all of the routing we will traverse here was at one time US 6, and US 24. Modern segment 006K only occupies approximately a third of a mile now, between Devereux Rd and CO 82 running on segment 082A (parallel approximately to I-70 Mile 116). At the time I took these images, however, the segment appeared to stretch west to at least Exit 114. So we will start there, where we left off in Part 11.

Immediately exiting from I-70 are these twin traffic circles with US 6 stretching back under the freeway. Notice that US 6 is signed both west and east, so the segment may have been designated even further west at the time.
If we look west, though, we come to a DEAD END sign parallel to the Interstate. It is doubtful any of this was maintained by CDOT after I-70 was built. So we'll turn east here.
EB US 6 (at least historically).
The street signs, however, remember that this was also US 24. We'll get to modern US 24's terminus at the very end west of Minturn.
Approaching the traffic circles again and an old button copy city limit sign.
Traffic circle signage, this time from US 6 itself.
If you roll around the circle, you will see a WEST US 6 shield, proving that at least some of what we travelled was indeed still US 6 at the time.
Rolling to EB US 6, now properly signed. I don't know if these signs are still up anymore.
Along the business district on the west side of town.
The street signs changed back to "HWY 6" here, dropping US 24. This sign was clearly erected later.
Curving around into town.
Present-day segment 006K starts just before this point. At the time, I saw no unique signage or obvious change in road maintenance; however, the street name changes appropriately to Sixth Street.
End segment 006K at CO 82, coming up from I-70, though we continue on Sixth Street.
CO 82 takes a weird you-ee in town, looping up on N River Dr, tracking Sixth St, and then turning back south on Grand Ave, all of which is part of segment 082A on the CDOT OTIS map.
If we continue on 6th St, though, it will dead end near the Glenwood Canyon trailhead.
So we get back on I-70 EB.

I-70/US 6

Now we begin the Glenwood Canyon alignment.

Mile 117.
The Colorado beside us.
The first set of tunnels.
Advance signage for No Name, accidentally named by the Interstate builders when they put an off-ramp for turnaround access at a then-unnamed area, which they called No Name, because it didn't have one. That turned out to be the name that stuck, and the name was applied to the nearby creek and canyon as well.
Entering the canyon proper, with the westbound lanes on an elevated alignment beside us, and this I-70 shield with the state name still on it.
Signage for the White River National Forest, established in 1905 out of the previous White River Plateau Reserve established by President Harrison in 1891. It covers 2,285,970 acres.
Rainclouds started approaching, but this ghostly view provides some measure of the majesty of the Canyon, I think.
The remainder of these photographs until the county line are lamentably limited by rain.
The Hanging Lake Tunnels. These 4,000' bores were the last portion of the project to be constructed and are named for the beautiful "suspended" Hanging Lake accessible by a nearby trailhead, which unfortunately was not accessible to me at the time due to the downpour.
The height differential between the two carriageways can be extreme.
Leaving the national forest and the Canyon.
Eagle county line.
Eagle County, Colorado

Eagle county is named for the Eagle River, a 60-mile tributary of the Colorado, giving its name to both the county seat (Eagle) and the county itself. Like many of the mountainous areas of western Colorado, mining was a substantial local industry. The modern county has 52,197 residents [2010].

Mile 131.50 (yes, CDOT occasionally posts fractional mile counts).
An interesting old suspension bridge over the Colorado.
Some short alignments of old US 6 serve some of the small settlements in the western county. These are no longer considered part of US 6 by CDOT, so I will only mention them for reference.
Distance signage, with one of the old US 6 alignments beside us. The Eagle River itself is just faintly visible beyond it.
Advance signage for Gypsum and the next official US 6 segment, with the old US 6 alignment continuing to run in parallel.
Exit 140.

US 6

This begins segment 006E at Mile 141.818.

Turning right off the exit into Gypsum.
US 6 sort of skirts Gypsum to the north, named for the nearby plentiful gypsum deposits. American Gypsum operates a drywall factory here using local mines and the name was applied to the town when Eagle Gypsum Limited, the original proprietor, started operations in the early 20th century. Incorporated in 1911, the modern town has 6,477 residents [2010].
Traffic circle, where we pick up the frontage road carrying our old alignment.
Mile 142 as we exit off the circle onto EB US 6.
The new US 6 bridge over the Eagle River.
The old bridge is a little more ... treacherous.
Under the railroad and turning east proper.
Leaving the outskirts of Gypsum.
EB US 6.
More old-school button copy distance signage leaving town. The Leadville control city is a historical holdover we will discuss in the next part; today it is accessed via US 24.
Mile 148.
Entering Eagle.
Eagle is the county seat, also named for the Eagle River, running to our left. Established as Castle by settler William Edwards, who staked a 156-acre claim at the mouth of one of the Eagle River's tributaries, the Eagle name was first applied in 1896. Eagle did not have the mineral resources Gypsum did, and mining faded early in the 1900s to be replaced by ranching; other than a minor silver strike in 1913, ranching and agriculture remained Eagle's linchpin industries until its proximity to the mountain resorts made tourism its major push today. Incorporated in 1905, the modern town has 6,508 residents [2010].
Through the charming northwest sector.
Traffic circle on the east side, with access to I-70 at exit 147.
And yet another old button copy distance sign leaving Eagle.
Made in the shade.
Crossing the Eagle River again on this older steel truss.
Gorgeous oxide deposits in the hills.
An old culvert wall which may have been part of a now overgrown abandoned alignment.
Through the hills.
Entering Wolcott.
Wolcott is probably named for Senator Edward Oliver Wolcott, who served two terms in Congress as well as being a prominent attorney in Denver. During his terms in 1889 and 1895 he was a leading advocate for silver coinage and considered a popular society figure. After losing his reelection bid, he resumed his law practice until his death in 1905. The settlement has 15 people [2010].
Turnoff to CO 131. At the time this picture was taken, this was apparently its terminus; since then, it was extended south to I-70 at exit 157. From here it proceeds north to US 40 near Steamboat Springs.
That's about it for Wolcott.
Distance signage leaving town.
EB US 6.
Mile 163.
Skirting Edwards.
US 6 mostly runs to the north of Edwards and Edwards Village, an unincorporated and primarily resort-oriented community due to the nearby ski slopes and trails. The name may come from William Edwards, who settled what became Eagle proper (above). The community has 10,266 residents [2010].
Edwards Village.
Leaving town.
Entering Avon.
Avon's name is generally linked to the English Avon River, but the original name of the town was Avin when listed as a railroad stop in 1889; this original name may have been as much a now-lost railroad principal as typographical error. It is also another mountain resort town, much as Edwards is, even being the home of Vail Resorts before it moved to Broomfield. The modern town was incorporated in 1978 and has 6,447 residents [2010].
Traffic circle and Mile 170.
Through eastern Avon.
Mile 172, approaching our terminus with I-70.
Sometimes the signage on US 6 is just this limited.
Curving around to the segment end.
Junction I-70 ...
... and the eastern terminus of modern US 24 (recall we were travelling with old US 24 all the way back to Part 10) west of Minturn. From here, it continues on its way to Michigan using the former route of US 40S. This is the end of segment 006E at Mile 174.541. We get onto I-70 EB.
Continue to Part 13
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