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.

99.9 KEKB - Grand Junction's Favorite Country logo
Get our free mobile app

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, The Eisenhower bore opened in 1973, and the Johnson Bore opened in 1979. adds, "This tunnel is the result of more than 50 years of discussion, planning, designing, and construction."

Critical To Western Colorado

What if the tunnels hadn't been built? According to a recent post from, 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, 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.

Random Facts About Colorado's Eisenhower Tunnel

We have a birthday boy. The Eisenhower Tunnel opened to the public on March 8, 1973. That's right, the tunnel is celebrating its 50th birthday. Here's a look at a handful of random facts about this engineering masterpiece courtesy of Peak 1 Express, Summit Daily, and Easy Science For Kids.

NEXT: Things You Can't Take Through Colorado's Eisenhower Tunnel At Any Time

It goes without saying there are things you shouldn't take through a 1.69-mile tunnel. When it comes to Colorado's Eisenhower Tunnel, some materials have to take the alternate route over Loveland Pass. What happens when Loveland Pass is closed due to severe weather?

When it comes to some materials, they will shut down traffic at Eisenhower Tunnel so trucks transporting shipments of hazardous material can pass. This happens frequently. There are, however, certain materials that are "... not allowed through the Eisenhower Tunnels at any time." According to, these explosive, poisonous, and in some cases, radioactive materials cannot be transported through the tunnels.

KEEP SCROLLING: Hilarious Nasty Reviews of Colorado's Eisenhower Tunnel

Personally, I consider the tunnels to be a remarkable human achievement. Others seem to disagree.

More From 99.9 KEKB - Grand Junction's Favorite Country