Durango & Silverton Looks To Oil And Diesel For Locomotion During High Fire Danger

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

The owner of a famous tourist railroad in Colorado is making plans to keep his trains running during periods of high fire danger.

The engines that currently run on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad in southwest Colorado are fueled by coal. Coal-fired engines can produce sparks that could ignite a wildfire.

This summer, the railroad shut down for over a month while a huge wildfire raged and local officials enacted fire restrictions that banned coal-fired engines.

The famous trains draw a lot of tourists and the shutdown was a big economic hit.

Railroad owner Al Harper tells the Durango Herald he plans to spend as much as $6 million on oil- and diesel-powered engines that will stand in for the coal-fired engines as needed.

Harper called it a “momentous task” and vowed that the railroad would “never be shut down again for fires.”

There has been speculation that the Durango & Silverton’s historic steam trains were the culprit behind the 416 Fire, but no cause has been determined yet. Officials are still investigating what sparked the 84.5 square mile fire — the state’s sixth largest.

The Durango Herald notes that Harper accepts that the train may be a possible cause and asked for patience until the investigation is complete.

Read More: Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Bolsters Fleet For Dry Years (via DurangoHerld.com)

You Care.

You are one of the CPR readers who wants to know what is really going on these days. We can help you keep up - The Lookout is a free, daily email newsletter with news and happenings from all over Colorado. Sign up here and we will see you in the morning!