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May 24, 2022

Interurban Electric Train Between Grand Junction and Fruita, Colorado, 1911

Between July 14, 1910, and October 31, 1928, there was a daily electric passenger train service between Fruita and Grand Junction. Up to twelve cars were run along a sixteen-mile-long, standard-gauge rail line each way daily, at a cost of fifty cents per passenger for each one-way trip. Children using the train to and from school paid five cents for a round-trip ticket. The trip took about one hour each way, and the tracks meandered along the county roads through the orchards between the two towns, giving it the unofficial nickname, the “Zigzag Route.” Its official nickname, the “Fruit Belt Route,” was painted on the sides of the train cars. But the electric sign at the depot in Fruita just called it the “Interurban.” That’s the name that stuck.

It was operated by the Grand Junction and Grand River Valley Railway, a subsidiary of the Grand Junction Electric, Gas & Manufacturing Company. The electricity that powered the trains was transmitted by overhead electric wires supported by red-and-white poles that lined the route. One of its other purposes was to run separate flatbed rail cars during summer months to carry produce collected from farms along the route for transportation to the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad depot in Grand Junction for shipment to points east.

The fifty cent charge might seem steep for the time, but the amount of time it cut off a shopping trip to the “big city” was worth the cost for many –– at least for a while. After the “Fruita Highway” was improved in the early- and mid-1920s, automobile traffic between the towns soon made that the faster trip for those who could afford cars, and Interurban usage began to dwindle. Passenger service finally ended in 1928. Expanded truck usage cut into freight traffic as well, and that service ended in 1935. In 1936, the company was dissolved and the tracks were torn up for scrap and sent to a foundry in Pueblo.


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