Research and Education

The coming of the railroad was a key element in the industrial revolution that catapulted the western world into new economics, new opportunities, new freedoms. The state of Colorado was unique in all the world for the network of narrow-gauge railroads that knitted together a vast area of mountain terrain otherwise inaccessible. It gave access to a storehouse of mineral wealth at exactly the moment in history it was most needed by a developing nation.

Our signature project is the story of the narrow-gauge railroad serving the mining areas of the foothills west of Boulder, Colorado.


Carrying various corporate names through its 38-year existence, it became known throughout the west by its identity with a route that took passengers deep into the majesty of the Rocky Mountains, along the spine of the American continent: the Switzerland Trail of America.


A Larger View


Documenting the history of this simple railroad opens to a broader perspective.

This is the story of the settlement of the state of Colorado, indeed, it is the story of the American West. Seeing this clearly, we extend our efforts beyond the immediate study area, casting a wide net into other areas of the state and beyond. Into the distant past, the present and the future.


Through our explorations on the ground, in the libraries, with the people, we discover how roads, towns, schools came to be. We come to understand how European patterns came to the mountains and forests, to the high meadows, prairies and deserts of the vast area west the 100th meridian.

And we begin to come to terms with the many ways the land has shaped us as a people, given us the distinctive way of seeing the world that comes from living in an area where nature will never be tamed.


Finding Meaning


In our quest to nurture the roots and the very identity of those who choose to call the West their home, we use the research tools of the historian, the geographer, the sociologist, the artist, the community planner, the economist.


Research becomes meaningful as its findings are shared. Our educational programs are as diverse as the people we hope to serve. We aim to make a difference in lives now and on into the future of this land we are blessed to inhabit.



The Mission

of the

Colorado Institute


Historical Geography


To encourage the continued growth of the community and all its members


by emphasizing our common interests


through nurturing a sense of time and a sense of place.

PO Box N

Fort Collins CO 80522 USA

501(c)(3) DLN 26053699001115

Click images on this website

to enlarge them.

Print Print | Sitemap

This work is licensed under a

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.