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Who was that man named Shoup?

Black Forest’s Shoup Road is named for Oliver H. Shoup, Republican governor of Colorado from 1919 to 1922.Shoup was born in Champagne County, Ill., in 1863. He moved with his family to Colorado Springs when he was 13 years old and attended public school in the city. After spending a year at Colorado College, Shoup spent eight years working for Gen. William Palmer’s Colorado Springs company.Shoup also was a private secretary to Verner Reed, a local mining millionaire who was running a real estate and investment company. Eventually, Shoup managed all of Reed’s operations.Working for Reed put Shoup in position to learn the oil industry ñ knowledge that made him a fortune when he decided to become an oil man, drilling in Wyoming.By 1916, Shoup retired from active participation in the oil business and turned his attention to raising stock, such as Colorado Ranger horses, on his ranch north of Colorado Springs. He also owned the Edgar Box and Lumber Co., which leased and cut timber for a sawmill located on Black Forest land owned by Cort Burgess.Shoup is also known to have worked with Edward Nichols, six-term mayor of Manitou Springs, on Nichols’ expansion of the Cliff House from a 20-room boarding house to the four-and-a-half-story hotel that stands today.Active in the Republican Party at the state level, he was a strong supporter of Prohibition. When the party needed a candidate for governor in 1918, Shoup was ready.During his four years as governor, Shoup took a personal interest in reorganizing the Colorado National Guard and building 13 armories throughout the state. He also had a hand in forming the State Highway Department. However, Shoup is best known for his persistent support for building a railroad tunnel through the Rocky Mountains, west of Denver.At the time, Pueblo, Colo., and Cheyenne, Wyo., had the only two profitable train routes through the Rockies to lucrative West Coast markets.Denver had a railroad to the west ñ the Denver, Northwestern and Pacific ñ but its tracks climbed Rollins Pass through a series of switchbacks and steep grades that were impassable in winter months. The cost of snow removal made the line unprofitable.The Denver, Northwestern and Pacific was owned by Denver industrialist David Moffat, and building the tracks over Rollins Pass had eaten up a good portion of his capital.Moffat dreamed of a tunnel through the Rockies but by his death in 1911 no tunnel had been built, and Moffat had lost $14 million. Still, the idea of a tunnel persisted. Lack of good access to the Pacific Coast was stunting Denver’s ability to grow.In 1914, Denver authorized the issuance of bonds to fund two-thirds of tunnel construction, but a court ruled the city’s joint venture with a private corporation unconstitutional.Two years into Shoup’s term as governor, the Colorado Legislature considered a bill to build Moffat’s dream tunnel under Rollins Pass.Southern Colorado representatives were reluctant to give up Pueblo’s stranglehold on Colorado’s west-bound rail traffic. Denver legislators sweetened the bill by authorizing construction of railroad tunnels under Monarch Pass and Cumbres Pass, both in the southern end of the Rockies.But the southern Colorado legislators refused to take the bait, and the bill failed.A year later, tunnel proponents, including Shoup, saw their chance and took it.On June 3, 1921, after three days of torrential rain, the Arkansas River flooded Pueblo, sweeping 600 houses downstream, killing more than 100 people and destroying $19 million worth of property.Shoup called the state’s legislators into emergency session. They considered two bills that had to be voted on simultaneously: one authorizing emergency funding for Pueblo (including the construction of flood control facilities) and another forming the Moffat Tunnel Improvement District.The district was authorized to issue bonds to fund the construction of a railroad tunnel and a separate water tunnel under Rollins Pass, west of Denver.Their arms sufficiently twisted, the southern Colorado legislators voted yes, allowing both bills to pass. Some historians credit the blackmail as the animosity between Pueblo and Denver that continues today. Although the railroad tunnel was named for Moffat, historians credit Shoup for getting the job done.Construction of the pilot tunnel, which later became the water tunnel, began in 1923. Both tunnels were completed in 1928. The east portal is 10 miles west of Rollinsville and the west portal is near the Winter Park Ski Resort.The railroad tunnel is 6.2 miles long, and it shortened the travel distance from Denver to the Pacific Coast by 176 miles.Originally estimated at $6.2 million, construction costs soared to $15.6 million because of bad rock at the west end of the tunnel.In 1922, Shoup declined to run for another term as governor. After serving on the boards of several Colorado banks, he retired to Santa Monica, Calif., and died there of a heart attack Sept. 30, 1940.His body was returned to Colorado Springs for burial at Evergreen Cemetery. He was survived by his second wife, Mary Alice Hackett, and four children (Reba, Oliver Jr., Merrill and Verner) from his first marriage to Unetta Small.The Union Pacific still uses the railroad tunnel to haul coal and freight, and the water tunnel carries water from the western slope to Denver.

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