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Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad


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About a week ago I had the opportunity to ride the D&S NGRR.

This is a 3 foot gauge railroad trip and was about a 100 mile round trip.  

It took about 7 hours, from 7000+ foot to 9000 +foot elevation.

During the busier times the D&S runs three 10 car passenger trains.  

There was one box car that carried RR tools, supples and camping gear for campers.

We had 3 open air cars, 3 coaches, one combine used for food and drink and 2 special VIP cars.

These special cars cost more to ride in.  We had two of three types of special cars. One on the other train had

two rows of big recliners.  The one I rode in was original as it was in the 1890s.  The other was set up like a

private car with tables and soft chairs, a bar and personal attendants.  It was the first car to fill up.

There were two trains running the day I rode, both full.  The other earlier train had about the same consist but with the recliner car instead of the car I rode in.

We caught up with it at Silverton a two hour stop for lunch and visits to gift shops.

A whole train can turn around on a Wye in Silverton and on a balloon track in Durango.

A stop is made to empty the tanks under the smallest rooms on the train.

The Railroad is privately owned.  The owner's private car sits in the round house.

This summer the owner had his car attached to a train.  The engineer forgot the train was one car longer

and backed into the Wye, running over the derailer, derailing the owner's private car with the owner in it.

The engineer is still employed. The owner seems to treat his employees very well.

I believe he owns 4 other railroads.  I was told the railroads are his hobby.

The locos are all the same smaller 2-8-2 type.  I saw 7 locomotives.  Two need an overhaul.

one or maybe two of the heavier 2-8-2 had been traded for the smaller style locos.

One of the larger locos is operational at The Cumbres $ Toltec Narrow gauge RR. More on this railroad later.

These heavy locos were originally standard gauge and were a tight fit in the many rock cuts along the right of way.

I was told these heavy locos were also hard on the track on the many sharp curves.

On our trip up we could reach out and touch the rocks in the cuts on both sides of our car.  

We were in a narrow gauge car.  The train did slow down to a walk through these cuts.

The track was rough and the cars rocked enough to contact the rock at a higher speed.

walking through the cars while underway got a person quite friendly with other passengers.

Along the way up we did stop for water twice and once in each direction to pickup or let off campers.  

There was also one other stop that the other train made to let off or pick up tree walkers.

These people travel on cables from tree top to tree top.  The cable passed over our train.

I think they said there was more than 18 trees on the cable and a lodge at the end.

The railroad museum was outstanding.  It occupied about 5 or 6 stalls in the round house.

The rest of the round house was for the locos.  

The RR was well worth the trip to see and ride it.

PS: the employees seem to dislike the The Cumbres & Toltec RR.  Two of them told me it was a standard gauge line.

     and not worth the 55 mile trip to see it.  I took the time to travel those 55 miles.  It was well worth the trip.    

     It is also three foot gauge and is talking about merging the D&S RR.  It is own by two states and they completed an

     upgrade of trackage this year.  they have plans to rebuild the 60 or so miles of track between the two railroads.

     The D&S employees said it will never happen as the original grade has a road and buildings on it now.

     I guess they don't understand the power of the bulldozer and the ability of government to spend tax money.  


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