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Moffat County

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The Moffat Road, which began as the Denver, Salt Lake & Pacific and became the Denver & Rio Grande, never reached the last two destinations incorporated into its original name. But it did get to Craig, which became the county seat when the northwest corner of Colorado became Moffat County in 1911.

Since rail passenger service ended in the 1950s, U.S. 40 has kept people coming and going. The county's railroad and highway architecture are notable, although both routes are lined by dead and dying towns. Paralleling U.S. 40 are several abandoned stretches of the original route, the first paved transcontinental highway.

Second in size only to Las Animas County, Moffat is thinly settled with scattered cattle, hay, and sheep ranches. Coal, which initially attracted the railroad, is still a major industry. Monstrous open-pit mines such as the Trapper Mine south of Craig are served by new D&RG spur lines and hundred-car coal trains.

Oil and natural gas are likewise major products, and a 1950s and 1960s uranium boom also boosted the Maybell area. Tourism, particularly white water canoeing, kayaking, and rafting, as well as hunting, is a lively part of the economy. Dinosaur National Monument occupies more than 210,000 acres on the western edge of the county, spilling across the Utah line. Architectural gems there include the museum, visitors' center, and glass-enclosed fossil excavations. Several turn-ofthe century homestead ranches have been preserved as National Register attractions within the national monument and in Brown's Park.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Thomas J. Noel

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