National Geographic : 1932 Jul
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE rnotograpn Dy L4. t . ivic.iure WINTER MEANS A SEASON OF INCESSANT BATTLE FOR MOUNTAIN RAILWAYS In Colorado is the greatest concentration of high mountains in the United States. Forty eight named peaks exceed 14,ooo feet in altitude and hundreds reach above the Io,ooo-foot mark. Four through railways cross or penetrate the Continental Divide within the State and, except under the most unusual weather conditions, are kept operating during the winter. These drifts are on Rollins Pass. The Moffat Tunnel (see pages 29 and 61) now permits trains to dodge far under them. Take in fancy a rapid swing around Colorado to learn the bewildering variety of the State's physical features and its diversified economic life. Within this typical mountain State is an area as great as all Indiana almost de void of hills. As you whiz by on the air line roads of eastern Colorado, you see only small herds of cattle in pastures. But 60 years ago these vast plains, unfenced, were the seat of a bonanza cattle industry that rivaled gold mining and created cattle barons as wealthy and famous as those of Texas. The industry killed itself by the late eighties by overgrazing, and moved west. Turn north to the valley of the South Platte River. There you enter Colorado's outstanding irrigated domain. Lush green fields of alfalfa here, dairy herds, and mile upon mile of straight rows of sugar beets. You drive West in spring and summer through a sea of moisture-created green, beside wide irrigation canals, across many a water-filled ditch. IRRIGATION MAKES FACTORY CHIMNEYS GROW Irrigation was the savior of Colorado. Most of the treasure-seekers who went out in '59 and '6o had only the desire to col lect gold quickly and return to the East. It was believed that the country could not support a permanent population. But a few men planted gardens in the river bot toms, led water to them in crude ditches, and obtained astonishing yields. Cooperative groups built larger ditches at higher levels and threw up diversion dams. Development has gone on until now every one of the many streams that flow from the mountains is taken almost bodily over by irrigators as soon as it reaches the foothills.