23 Random Facts You Probably Don’t Know About Colorado’s Eisenhower Tunnel
Colorado's amazing Eisenhower Tunnel is celebrating a birthday, and it's a biggie. That's right, this unbelievable achievement is turning the "Big 5-0." In honor of its birthday, here are a handful of random facts about the Eisenhower Tunnel.
The Eisenhower Tunnel opened to the public on March 8, 1973 after five long years of unimaginable work. Fifty years later, Coloradans drive through the tunnel without giving it much thought. Here's a look at the history and some fun facts about the Eisenhower Tunnel.
History of Colorado's Eisenhower Tunnel
Located on Colorado's Interstate 70 roughly 60 miles west of Denver, the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel traverses the Continental Divide at an average elevation of 11,112 feet. When the Eisenhower Tunnel opened in 1973, it was the highest vehicular tunnel in the world. That title has since been lost.
According to cdot.gov, The Eisenhower bore opened in 1973, and the Johnson Bore opened in 1979. Cdot.gov adds, "This tunnel is the result of more than 50 years of discussion, planning, designing, and construction."
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Critical To Western Colorado
What if the tunnels hadn't been built? According to a recent post from cpr.org, without the tunnel, America's Interstate system would have been extremely different. Lisa Schoch, a senior historian at the Colorado Department of Transportation, told CPR without the tunnels, the United States Interstate system would not have gone through Western Colorado and would have abruptly stopped in Denver.
Extinguishing One Myth
When it comes to the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel, there seems to be a misconception when it comes to the latter name. Were the tunnels named in honor of Presidents Eisenhower and Johnson? Eisenhower, yes, but not Johnson.
The Johnson Tunnel is named after Edwin "Big Ed" Johnson, a former senator and Governor who, according to Vail Daily, was one of the tunnel's most vociferous advocates.
Conflicting Information About Colorado's Eisenhower Tunnel
If you conduct a little research regarding the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnels, you'll find a few "facts" don't add up. Most are inconsequential, but others are far more serious.
One unfortunate example would involve the number of fatalities associated with the construction of the tunnels. According to CPR, a total of seven people died during the tunnel's construction. An article from the Greeley Tribune reflects that same number. The website mountainshuttle.com, however, reports a total of three people died during the construction.
What Is Colorado Going To Do To Celebrate The Occassion?
Not much. An effort was made to contact the Colorado Department of Transportation and ask if a celebration was planned. The official reply reads, "Not that I'm aware of."
With that, we'll just have to throw a birthday party of our own. In the radio business, we do a number of things on trade. I'm going to see if I can trade out for a birthday cake with one of the local bakeries. Seriously, I'm going to try.
In the meantime, let's celebrate the remarkable achievement of the construction of the Eisenhower Tunnel with a number of fun, random facts.