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Soldier Summit: A Failed Experiment

In 1919 the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad decided to move their operations from Helper to Soldier Summit to cut their operating costs. This proved to be a horrible idea. The first housing provided by the railroad was nothing more than thin wood framed canvas tents on cement foundations wrapped with tar paper. Eventually the housing would become the well-known company “half salt box houses” or “squat boxes,” most of which were not much more than an 850 square foot shed divided into smaller “rooms.” It was common to have between 6 to 16 feet of snow for up to 6 months of the year. The 2500 residents would have to dig actual tunnels between buildings, including their outhouses, to get around. This continued until 1929 when the equipment and buildings were moved back to Helper because of the costs associated with the harsh conditions. A few hardy souls remained to keep the town alive for many more decades. By 1979 complaints from passing motorists about a speed trap caused the state to legally dissolve the police force. This took away the towns revenue source and effectively ended Soldier Summit as a town.

Today there are a few residents and a gas station/convenience store.

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