Looking back for Aug. 25, 1960: Rabbit Ears Pass reopens after 3 years of work | SteamboatToday.com

Looking back for Aug. 25, 1960: Rabbit Ears Pass reopens after 3 years of work

— Opening of the Rabbit Ears Pass highway to traffic after being closed for nearly three years will be celebrated Saturday when Gov. George Clyde, of Utah, and Lt. Gov. Bob Knous, of Colorado, cut a ribbon on the multi-million dollar project.

The ribbon cutting will be at 2 p.m. near the end of the second project built by the Amis Construction Co. It will follow a free barbecue at the monument on top of Rabbit Ears Pass at noon.

The local Chamber of Commerce and the Highway 40 association are arranging the ceremony that will call nationwide attention to the opening of the most modern pass highway in the state.

Rabbit Ears Pass is a vital link in Highway 40, the shortest and most scenic transcontinental route, and the highway is of great economic value to Colorado and Utah.

The Rabbit Ears Pass route was used by early day trappers and was a freight road to North and Middle park for many years. The first start toward making it a main route was started in 1911 when the Forest Service and Routt, Grand and Jackson counties cooperated to make a survey possible. Citizens of Steamboat Springs contributed $1,200 for the first engineering, and when this was found insufficient, the state highway department gave an additional $4,000.

The dirt road, passable for automobiles, was completed in 1915 and advertised as the “Moffat Highway,” the shortest route from Salt Lake City to Denver. It was claimed the distance could be covered in three days — stopping first night at Steamboat Springs, the second at Vernal and reach Salt Lake City the third day.

Publicity then claimed the road was 16 feet wide overall on the hillsides and 14 feet on the straightaways with all stumps grubbed there within 10 feet of the centerline. Numerous turnouts were built as six-horse teams were more frequent than automobiles.

Facts and figures for the Rabbit Ears Pass highway

■ Rebuilding the first 7.7 miles of the Rabbit Ears Pass highway, including the paving, will cost $3.97 million, or about $516,000 a mile.

■ Construction from the foot of the pass for three miles on the first project was started July 22, 1957.

■ The floor of the pass has an elevation of 6,914 feet, and the first top 7.7 miles further has an elevation of 9,370 feet.

■ The new highway has 17 curves of light curvature, not exceeding 8 1/2 degrees, as compared with 70 curves on the old road, some of which exceeded 24 degrees in curvature.

■ When the paving is completed there will be three 12-foot traffic lanes and 12 feet of shoulder, making a total of 48 feet of pavement. The grades on the new highway range from 5.8 percent. The new section of highway is two miles shorter than the old road.

Fish Creek Reservoir water survey to be finished soon

The Town Board was told Friday night that the engineering firm of Harold Hoskins and Associates, of Greeley, would finish the water survey Tuesday, and it appeared that the most practical way to store more water would be to enlarge Fish Creek Reservoir.

They were told that this would mean the present dam would have to be enlarged.

The additional water will be filed on with the state engineer before Oct. 1.

This water would assure the town of having the water available should the town expand.

■ Roy Struble and Don Kinney were appointed to the Planning Commission by the board to replace Irlan Neas and George Orell, who are not eligible because they are on the Town Board.

■ Construction of the town garage east of the rodeo grounds is under way with Tom Duckels building the garage.

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