Time Machine Tuesday: Wolf Creek Pass

August 21 marked the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Wolf Creek Pass road in Southwestern Colorado.  Proclaimed by the Durango Herald as “The State’s No. 1 Dangerous Pass,” the road is an adventure at 10,857 feet.  And as hair-raising as it is in today’s modern vehicles, just imagine driving a Model T through Wolf Creek Pass!

The decision to build the Wolf Creek Pass road was made due to the need for a replacement for the old Elwood Pass road, which had been destroyed by a 1911 flood.  Construction began in 1914; you can read about it in the Biennial Report of the State Highway Commission, which our library has digitized.  This is a bound volume that includes the biennial reports for 1910 through 1916.  Pages 106-107 of the 1914 report describe the road’s construction, and pages 108 through 111 of the 1916 report detail the construction expenses.  After two years and $100,000 the pass road opened on August 21, 1916 with a huge celebration.  According to the Colorado Department of Transportation’s Highways to the Sky, “on completion of the road in 1916, drivers by the hundreds took the chance to cross the new pass.”  The road has been rebuilt several times, but it continues in its legacy as one of the state’s most beautiful — and dangerous — mountain passes.

Tourists on the Wolf Creek Pass road in 1916.  Photo by O.T. Davis, courtesy CDOT.