June 21, 2019 10:00 AM EDT Cincinnati


Union Pacific Moffat Tunnel, Tolland, Colorado, Folk Art Carved Wood Level

Wood level, 3 x 24 x 1.25 in., with "bubbles" on narrow edge and in a hole that goes through the wood (at right angles to each other); setting for top bubble and end caps brass. Top carved with "1925" and "Tolland" on either side of the bubble; one side with geometric and floral designs. One image is of a tunnel with a rail line running into it. Bottom has "The Moffat Tunnel." Reverse side with two birds, flower petals around the hole and floral design at center. 

The Moffat Tunnel was proposed as early as 1902 by David Moffat of the Denver, Northwestern and Pacific RR, because the only line from Denver to the West Coast went up Rollins Pass with a series of switchbacks, a 4% grade, and risk of snow for half of the year. Snow removal alone made it unprofitable. So Moffat began seeking an alternate route. It would take another decade and a half to overcome all the hurdles, certainly funding, but also opposition to a joint venture between public and private entities, and other issues. Part of the issue seemed to be economic competition - Pueblo (CO) and Cheyenne (WY) had direct rail lines to the West. Especially Pueblo was worried about competition from Denver if it also got a direct line west. So many obstructions came about because other Colorado towns did not want the competition from Denver. But eventually obstructions were overcome, and bonds were sold and plans made by 1923.

A pioneer tunnel (8' x 8') was bored 75 feet south of and parallel to the main tunnel to facilitate the work. That tunnel was "holed through" in February 1927; the railroad tunnel was "holed through" in July of that year. The pioneer tunnel was later enlarged and used to carry water to Denver and a few neighboring towns. The first trains passed through the railroad tunnel in February 1928.

Consignor relates that his father received the level as a gift more than twenty years ago from a member of a family in Aurora, Colorado, whose relation, while working on the Moffat Tunnel project, carved the level.

Estimate: $200 - $400
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium

Internet Bidding

Have a Similar Item?

Consign With Us

Let Cowan's Handle Your Shipping!

Cowan's Auctions is one of the only houses to offer full service, in-house shipping.  

Our experts pack and ship over 5,000 purchases each year.  
Shipping costs are included on every invoice to make getting your items as fast and easy as possible. 

For more information, click HERE or contact shipping@cowans.com.