Denver & Rio Grande Western
Colorado (Animas River Canyon)
June 13, 1970

In 1970 the Denver & Rio Grande Western was still operating passenger service, albeit reluctantly, over its narrow gauge trackage between Durango and Silverton, Colorado. Listed in the 1970 Official Guide as "Summer only," train no. 461 ("mixed") left Durango at 8:30 am for the 45.2 mile run, arriving at Silverton at 12:01 pm and returning to Durango as no. 462 ("mixed") at 5:30 pm. A second train, no. 463/464, followed an hour later in both directions. Beneath the schedule is the remarkable phrase "All spaces reserved."

The Rio Grande never did know quite what to make of the popularity of these "mixed" trains and repeatedly tried to discontinue them in the 1960s, which even then were popularly known as The Silverton Train. In the 1970's they changed their focus to selling the operation and ultimately found a buyer in Charles Bradshaw, washing their hands of the whole thing on October 5, 1980. In March 1981 the trains began operating as the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and have run continually since, with occasional interruption due to floods, wildfires, etc. Today the road is owned and operated by American Heritage Railways.

Once out of Durango, the track follows the Animas River for most of the way to Silverton. At times the river is as much as several hundred feet below the tracks, resulting in many spectacular vistas.

This page posted 1/1/2019. Text and photo ©2019 Lamont Downs.