Biography of David Halliday Moffat

David H. Moffat, one of the empire builders of the great West, was born at Washingtonville, Orange County, N. Y., in the year 1839. He died in New York City on March 1S, 1911. He was the youngest child of David Moffat and Catherine Gregg Moffat. The life of David H. Moffat can be properly termed one of the romances of the great Middle West, for he was connected with almost every important development between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains, particularly in the vicinity of Denver. He commenced his business career as a clerk in a New York bank at twenty years of age, and in 1860, shortly after the discovery of gold at Pike’s Peak, went to Denver, then a mining camp, where he established himself in the stationery business. That enterprise was first located in a tent, on the banks of Cherry Creek, where his little stock of newspapers, magazines and stationery was sold to the miners from a counter constructed by placing boards on the tops of two empty flour barrels. In a short time he was a clerk in the newly organized First National Bank of Denver, where he rose in rapid succession to the position of Cashier, and then President, a position which he held until his death. His name is inseparably connected with the mining industry of Colorado and the building of its railroad systems, in both of which he amassed a fortune of several millions of dollars. He was one of the chief promoters of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad system, and its President for many years. He built the Colorado Springs and Cripple Creek Short Line Road which was constructed over mountains in many places 9,000 feet above sea level.

The greatest project of his busy life and the one of most importance to his adopted city of Denver, was the Railroad over the Rocky Mountain range, familiarly known as the Moffat Road. This road, the Denver, Northwestern and Pacific, crosses the range at an altitude of 11,600 feet, and is the highest broad gauge railroad in the world. Its terminus will be Salt Lake City, some seven hundred miles west from Denver. When completed this line will shorten the distance between Chicago and San Francisco some 250 miles and reduce the running time about 24 hours less than by any other route. It enters a vast empire of natural wealth now undeveloped. The original plans called for a tunnel under the range and this has now been built. It is 6.9 miles long and its total cost was $12,000,000.

Mr. Moffat died when his gigantic project was less than half completed, but his memory is cherished by those of the present day who regard his life work as of inestimable value to Colorado. Some forty years ago he presented his native village with a building which is used as a public hall and library, and bears the name of “Moffat Library.” Shortly before his death he gave a large pipe organ to Blooming Grove Church. The State of Colorado has honored his name by naming one of its counties Moffat County, and placing a memorial window in the Senate chamber in the State Capitol at Denver.



Headley, Russel. The history of Orange County, New York. Middletown, N.Y.: Van Deusen and Elms. 1908.

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