Some Early Lines
Narrow gauge USA
All Aboard! Durango to Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
For 130 continuous years coal-fired steam engines have powered up the narrow gauge tracks that connect Durango, Colorado to Silverton. Originally constructed to haul workers to, and precious metals back from, gold and silver mines in the San Juan Mountains, the line now operates exclusively for the benefit of tourists.
Pulling restored 1880-era passenger cars, the locomotive winds along 45 miles of the Animas River as it climbs to Silverton’s 9,035 feet elevation. During its three-hour trip, the train clings to canyon walls, passes waterfalls, and gives views of 14,000 foot peaks that are often topped with year-round snow.
Is it any wonder the Society of American Travel Writers chose it as one of the World’s Top 10 Train Rides.
The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad (D&SNG) is a narrow gauge heritage railroad that operates 45 miles (72 km) of 3 ft (914 mm) track between Durango and Silverton, in the US state of Colorado. The railway is a federally designated National Historic Landmark and is also designated by the American Society of Civil Engineers as a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.
The route was originally built between 1881 and 1882, by the Denver and Rio Grande Railway, in order to carry supplies and people to and silver and gold ore from mines in the San Juan Mountains. The line was an extension of the D&RG narrow gauge from Antonito, Colorado to Durango. The last train to operate into Durango from the east was on December 6, 1968. The States of New Mexico and Colorado purchased 64 miles of the line between Antonito and Chama, New Mexico in 1970 and operates today as the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad. The trackage between Chama and Durango was abandoned and rails were removed by 1971.
The line from Durango to Silverton has run continuously since 1881, although it is now a tourist and heritage line hauling passengers, and is one of the few places in the United States which has seen continuous use of steam locomotives. In March 1981, the Denver & Rio Grande Western sold the line and the D&SNG was formed.
Some of the rolling stock dates back to the 1880s. The trains run from Durango to the Cascade Wye in the winter months and run from Durango to Silverton during the summer months. The depot in Durango was built in January 1882 and has been preserved in original form.