Denver Pacific Railway & Telegraph Company (1867-1880)

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This page was last updated on February 22, 2019.

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Denver Pacific was completed in June 1870; operated by Kansas Pacific after September 1879; locomotives renumbered to KP series in 1879.

The following comes from a roadside sign located along Union Pacific's former Denver Pacific, near Greeley, Colorado:

The Denver Pacific Railway -- When the Union Pacific Railroad decided to go through Wyoming instead of through Colorado, many people moved from the territory; Denver itself was shrinking. Former governor John Evans rescued Colorado Territory by promoting a connecting railroad from Denver to Cheyenne. The new railroad received no federal bond subsidy as had the Union Pacific, but Congress provided a generous land grant to encourage investment. Grading began in 1868, and the road was completed in June 1870. The tracks ran through this point. Denver Pacific agents encouraged settlers to purchase land on the company's grant, and Horace Greeley supported the idea of an agricultural colony in the pages of his New York Tribune. The Union Colony at Greeley (1870) was one result of these efforts. In 1880 the Denver Pacific was absorbed by the Union Pacific.

Consolidated in January 1880 with Union Pacific Railroad and Kansas Pacific Railway to form the Union Pacific Railway.

(See also: Kansas Pacific History page)


November 19, 1867
Denver Pacific Railway & Telegraph Company was Incorporated

March 3, 1869
"An Act of Congress approved on March 3, 1869 authorized the transfer of lands granted to Union Pacific Railway Company, Eastern Division between Denver and the point of its connection with the Union Pacific Rail Road to Denver Pacific Railway & Telegraph Company." The act also allowed the UPED to contract with Denver Pacific for the construction, operation and maintenance of its line between Denver and Cheyenne, and for the UPED to transfer perpetual use of its right of way and depot grounds, and the transfer of all rights and privileges of UPED to Denver Pacific.

March 19, 1869
In accordance with the Act of Congress mentioned above, on March 19, 1869, UPED entered into a contract with Denver Pacific granting those rights and privileges. The contract provided that the Denver Pacific would be completed between Denver and Cheyenne by January 1, 1871.

(Union Pacific Railway, Eastern Division became Kansas Pacific Railway on March 3, 1869)

January 1, 1870
Construction was completed between Cheyenne and Evans, Colorado (58 miles)

March 1870
First two locomotives were delivered

May 30, 1870
Construction was completed between Evans, Colorado, and Johnson (near Platteville), Colorado (additional 16 miles; total of 74 miles)

June 1870
Three additional locomotives were delivered.

June 9, 1870
Construction was completed from Johnson, Colorado, to Hughes (now Brighton), Colorado (additional 13 miles; total of 87 miles)

June 23, 1870
Construction was completed from Hughes to Denver (additional 19 miles; total of 106 miles)

July 1871
The last of a total of six locomotives was delivered.

Independent ownership and operation until receivership on April 2, 1878, with Jay Gould and Russell Sage as principle bondholders

Operated by receivers, for the interests of the bondholders, from April 2, 1878 to September 27, 1879

September 27, 1879
Operated by Kansas Pacific (which was also controlled by Jay Gould)

January 24, 1880
Merged with Union Pacific Railroad and Kansas Pacific Railway to form Union Pacific Railway.

February 1, 1880
Property transferred to Union Pacific Railway Company.


Full histories of the six Denver Pacific locomotives are presented as part of the Kansas Pacific locomotive roster.

(Read more about the Denver Pacific locomotives as part of the Kansas Pacific)

Denver Pacific 4-4-0 -- 4 locomotives

Builder Builder
1879 KP
DP 23 John Evans Baldwin 2506 Jul 1871 KP 123
DP 24 Walter Cheesman Baldwin 2173 Jun 1870 KP 124
DP 25 Thomas Edgerton Baldwin 2172 Jun 1870 KP 125
DP 26 David H. Moffat Baldwin 2171 Jun 1870 KP 126
DP 27   Baldwin 2106 Mar 1870 KP 127
DP 28   Baldwin 2109 Mar 1870 KP 128

Description (DP 23-26)

  • Drive Wheel Diameter: 61 inches
  • Cylinders: 16x24 inches

Description (DP 27, 28)

  • Drive Wheel Diameter: 56 inches
  • Cylinders: 16x24 inches


Union Pacific Railroad. Corporate History of Union Pacific Railroad Company, As of June 30, 1919; in compliance with ICC Valuation Order No. 20, page 125