Trough Road and Inspiration Point: a photo essay

photo by Jim Yust | One of the many wrecks along old Trough Road.
photo by Jim Yust | One of the many wrecks along old Trough Road.

by Jim Yust
My dad told of his mother, Mary Yust, riding sidesaddle around “Old” Inspiration Point in the late 1880’s, carrying a baby. The route at that time was a mere cow path/Indian trail. She was scared enough that she got off and led the horse.

I have the impression that the Moffat Railroad DNW&P improved that somewhat of a wagon road through the Trough 1902 – 1910, but call it hearsay. The earliest bridge across the Blue River, near the present Yust Ranch, was not built until 1908, and was made out of logs. All previous crossings were accomplished by fording or by crossing a frozen river. A one lane, steel, two span bridge with a 10 ton load limit was built in 1914 at the present Yust Ranch.

In 1913 the State of Colorado/ Grand County provided $5,000.00 for highway purposes. Some of this money went toward improving a route for a transcontinental motor highway known as The Midland Trail (prior to the Victory Highway also named US 40), including a segment from the Blue River to State Bridge. This encouraged residents of the Sheephorn Valley to petition to be moved from Eagle County to Grand County.
In the spring of 1914, the shelf above Gore Canyon was widened to a minimum of 12 feet. In 1916, an additional $4,000 was committed to the Trough.

The accompanying photos show portions of previous alignments that were in use until the late 1960s. The road downgrade from “Old” Inspiration Point joins the new/current route just north of the pullout and kiosk. As on both sides of Hartman Divide to the south, the oldest road east from Old Inspiration Point into the Trough had multiple switchbacks, while the last route to the point parallels the present road. Construction of the present road buried portions of the previous road(s). Numerous old two track routes can be discerned between the Trough and the Blue River.

“Until September, 1923, travel over the Trough required the opening and (hopefully) the closing of two gates on the land of Elizabeth Heil….” Island, p. 359.

Chris Smith of BLM takes a picture from Old Inspiration Point. Jim Yust (circled) sits between old and new Trough Roads.
Trough Road 3, which runs parallel to present Trough Road all the way to Inspiration Point. Old Inspiration Point (L) and new Inspiration Point (R) in background.
photos by Jim Yust