Gulf to Rockies is a chapter in the business and economic history of the American West and the story of two of the most colorful railroad builders of the nineteenth century.
Throughout the 1860s the mineral treasures of Colorado were virtually inaccessible for lack of railroads. Even after a hectic decade of building in the 1870s, the state faced a new sort of isolation: every railroad crossing her borders was controlled by the Union Pacific or the Santa Fe. As a result, the Rocky Mountain region could not hope to compete with the Midwest for the business of the Atlantic seaboard.
To remedy this situation, John Evans, former governor of Colorado, organized in 1881 a railroad to run southward from Denver as the first link in a cheap rail-water route via the Gulf of Mexico to the East. Meanwhile ambitious Fort Worth citizens had incorporated the Fort Worth and Denver City in 1873. Not a rail was laid on either road, however, until General Grenville M. Dodge, famed builder of the Union Pacific and the Texas Pacific, took up the Texas project and joined forces with Evans to create the Gulf-to-Rockies route.
It took seven years for these men and their associates to mobilize funds and complete the Fort Worth–Denver line, and another decade to establish the system’s independence and solve its financial problems in the face of drought, depression, and intense competition.
Gulf to Rockies was written under special agreements with Northwestern University and the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, whereby the university relieved Mr. Overton of a part of his duties in order that he might have time for research and writing and the railroad undertook to bear the cost of the research. The Burlington also permitted him free access to all company records and granted him unrestricted freedom to publish his findings.