Mount Evans History
For centuries people have looked up at Mount Evans, the most prominent mountain overlooking what is now Denver. In 1863 the mountain changed from something to admire from afar, to something to experience up close and personal. Famous western landscape painter Albert Bierstadt became the first known person to summit the mountain. In 1895, the mountain was officially named “Mount Evans,” after John Evans, the second territorial governor of Colorado.
July 22, 1923, construction began on the road and by summer’s end of 1930 it was complete. In June of 1931, the road opened to the public. At that time the Mount Evans Road was the highest in the world. Today it is the highest road in North America, ascending to 14,130 feet above sea level, making it 20 feet higher than the Pikes Peak Highway.
If you have ever hiked a high peak, you know how hard it is to function at high elevations. Take a moment to imagine what it must have been like for workers to construct a highway that reaches almost to the summit of Colorado's 14th highest 14,000 foot mountain. In the following contractor report to the Assistant Engineer of the State Highway Department, we get an understanding of what this must have been like:
During the construction season of 1923, the weather was constantly bad, there being practically continuous rain, hail and snow the whole season or heavy wet clouds. The result was that the use of heavy construction equipment was impracticable, and the contractor did practically all of the work with station gangs, who, with a shovel, hammer and drill, dynamite and determination, and copious amounts of Copenhagen snuff, literally forced the work through by hand, in spite of every obstacle.
Today, even with the aid of advanced technology, maintenance on North America's highest paved road remains challenging.