Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Rail Road & Museum

Durango and Silverton, Colorado are connected by a rail road that still carries passengers between the two towns via vintage steam locomotives that give a beautiful mountain view. Visitors can also visit two museums in Durango and Silverton that celebrate the history of the historic railroad. Photo: Roger Vorheis/Fotolia


»History

History


Durango, Colorado was original founded in 1879 as a stop on the Denver & Rio Grande Rail Road which was used to haul silver and gold out of the San Juan Mountains. The rail road finally arrived in the town in 1881 and by the summer of 1882 had connected to the small town to Silverton. Soon, the train began carrying both freight and passengers between the towns. The train has never ceased operating since 1882.

The Narrow Gauge Rail Road has seen many uses over the last century including military uses in World War I and II, Hollywood showcasing the train and the city of Durango in films such as Around the World in 80 Days, Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, and several others. Today, the rail road still provides train service all year with locomotives that are 100% coal fired and steam operated. The locomotives that are in operation are from the early 1920’s and are maintained in their original pristine condition. There are restroom facilities and concessions available on each train as well as open panoramic gondola cars for beautiful mountain views. The rail road is now operated by American Heritage Railways. Things to Do in Colorado: Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Rail Road & Museum - Photo: spiritofamerica/Fotolia

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»Attractions

Attractions


There are two museums, one at each end of the line in Durango and in Silverton. The museum in Durango is 12,000 square feet and was opened in 1998. Most of the exhibits in this museum were donated by families of rail road workers from the D&RGW line. Guided tours of this museum can be prearranged and a book store is also available with a large rail road history section.

The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Rail Road Museum in Silverton is in the Silverton Depot that was built in 1882. This building has stood the test of time, having been built to be temporary and bombed in 1975, this building has been a symbol of strength in the community. Baldwin Locomotive #493 from 1902 is on display in the courtyard.

D&SNG Yard Tours are also available where visitors can get the full story of the 135-year history of the rail road and see the inner workings of the yard and shops on a fully guided, immersive tour. Tours last for one hour and participants will get to see the machine shop, round house, car shop, and go behind the scenes in the museum with a docent. These tours are done May through October and are available twice daily.

Locomotive Cab Rides are available where you can see what it takes to operate a locomotive for a day and live the life of an engineer and fireman. These are 3.5 hour rides one way can ride, but a 9-hour round trip experience. There are also similar excursions available but in motor cars. These types of rides can be taken all year round. Riders must be over 18.

Historic Narration Rides are available in the summer and fall where passengers ride between Silverton and Durango with theatrical storytelling of the history of the West and Old days in the two towns.

Train to Cascade Canyon is one of the most popular routes offered by the rail road. This scenic route is beautiful no matter the season. The 26-mile-long journey will take 5 hours and is popular for photographers and nature lovers. The trip winds through the San Juan National Forest and follows the Animas River. Things to Do in Colorado: Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Rail Road & Museum - Photo: PHB.cz/Fotolia

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»Special Events

Special Events


There are several annual events that are hosted along the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Rail Road. There are also many special events that can be found on their website. Some of the events visitors can look forward to annually are:

The Durango Blue Train- Held to both usher in and close out the summer, the Blues & Brews Fest is a 21 and older only event with live blues music on board the locomotives as they travel from Durango to Silverton on a round trip past the beautiful San Juan National Forest.

Narrow Gauge Days celebrates the beginning of summer and train season every year with an annual free picnic for the entire community at the Durango Depot. All the trains are in operations, guides are in costume offering tours and history lessons, and the Durango Cowboys are strolling around as well.

Back to: Durango, Colorado

479 Main Ave, Durango, Colorado, 81301, website, Phone: 970-247-2733 Things to Do in Colorado: Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Rail Road & Museum - Photo: ruraldesigns/Fotolia

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Things to Do in Colorado: Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Rail Road & Museum