Durango-Silverton Railroad Going Back In Service As Fire Danger Is Lowered

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad locomotive arks on the tracks in Silverton over the July 4 holiday.
Photo: Durango And Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Locomotive
Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad locomotive arks on the tracks in Silverton over the July 4 holiday.

The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad will soon be up and running. The company announced Wednesday it will resume operations Thursday after shutting down more than a month ago during the 416 Fire in June.

The historic coal-fired steam locomotive that pulls the popular tourist train stopped operations during the most restrictive fire ban instituted during the height of the fire because it can cause sparks as it runs.

Christian Robbins, marketing director for the railroad, calls the move “a relief.”

"One of the reasons our train is the iconic train probably in North America is because it runs though the San Juan National Forest. It's gorgeous,” he said. “We want to do everything we can to help protect the forest."

When the railroad was sidelined, it put 150 employees on furlough, and caused an estimated $33 million in economic loss for the area.

The railroad has some new precautions in place including a contract with the Durango Water Protection District. A water truck will follow the train's route to prevent any fires. The railroad has also done brush cutting along its route to cut back potential fuel sources for fire.

La Plata County reduced its fire restrictions after recent rain gave some moisture to the region and helped firefighters begin to contain the 416 Fire. It continues to burn -- more than 54,000 acres have been blackened. The next worry for the forest region between Durango and Purgatory ski area: flash flooding.