The beginning of the town of Moffat is similar to that of many
boom towns of the West, when in 1890, the Denver and Rio
Grande narrow gauge railroad connected Alamosa and Salida
along what is now highway 17/285. Twice a day, a cattle and
grain laden train would steam through Moffat, stopping to
pick up additional loads of ore and cattle along the way. At
the time, there was even a rail spur that serviced Crestone,
with its surrounding mines and shanty towns. The town gets
its name from David Moffat, the railroad and mining magnate.
In 1904, he owned more than 100 mines and six railroads,
and lived to see his greatest achievement, the completion
of the highest railway in Colorado over Rollins Pass.
The town of Moffat saw skyrocketing growth during the
next twenty years, due mostly to its status as the second largest cattle shipping hub in Colorado. Soon, hotels, shops, and
saloons sprang up to support the brisk trade and exchange
in the currency of the day: cattle and ore. Moffat even had
professional offices, newspapers and a telephone company.
The population grew to several thousand, and it swelled to as
much as ten times that during cattle drives and livestock
Beginning in 1908, there was a large push for land development
and developers offered parcels of farmland, town lots,
and even a brick hotel by drawing for a $200 entry. All this
excitement and optimism diffused quickly as full-gauge alternate
railway routes created competition for freight and services
and grandiose water development projects that were implied
by those trying to develop Moffat never materialized. Consequently,
there was never sufficient water to irrigate the farm
parcels that were sold and
raffled off to unsuspecting buyers.
By 1920, the population had declined to approximately 120
people, equivalent to the number living there today, many
of whom are descendants of early settlers. These hardy and
independent residents appreciate the small town atmosphere,
unhurried lifestyle, and stark beauty of this vast valley.
Today, social life in Moffat revolves around events at the school
, the daily or weekly rituals of picking up the mail or
making a transaction at the credit union. Everyone knows
everyone, so you are likely to get the latest local news in just a
couple of conversations. Visitors, destined for either Crestone
or the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, can
stop by the coffee shop and gallery and possibly even rest a
night at the historic B&B. The big event of the summer is the
Moffatstock Festival, on Saturday, July 21st. Music, flea market
booths, local farm produce, and other activities make it
a fun-filled day, with the proceeds going to the Moffat Community
Center Project, which is restoring the old Moffat
Church. Set against the panoramic views of both mountains
and valley, Moffat is a neighborly town made up of folks who
enjoy simple, rural living.