Home > Scenery, Traveling > Durango & Silverton Railroad

Durango & Silverton Railroad


While Romola and I have been in the Durango area several times before, we never took the famous train ride to Silverton.  This year we decided to take the train from Durango to Silverton and back.  Certainly one of the more scenic train rides in the country!

Durango was founded by the Denver & Rio Grande Railway in 1880. The railroad arrived in Durango on August 5, 1881 and construction on the line to Silverton began in the fall of the same year. By July of 1882, the tracks to Silverton were completed and the train began hauling both passengers and freight.  It is a narrow gauge railroad, with the track being 3 ft. wide.

From the very beginning, the railroad was promoted as a scenic route for passenger service although the line was constructed primarily to haul mine ores, both gold and silver, from the San Juan Mountains. It is estimated over $300 million in precious metals has been transported over this route.

Eventually the ores played out and the mines greatly reduced.  It saw a resurgence during WW2 for mining uranium, but since WW2 the area, and railroad, had struggled.  Then Hollywood discovered the railroad and several films featured the train.   In the 1960’s the RR was registered as a Historical Site, and promoted for tourism.  It was purchased in the 1980’s and since then has seen restoration, additions, and is now a major tourist attraction.  The train now runs year round.

 

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