‹‹ Colorado Postcards

The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

Listen Now
1min 00sec
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad locomotive parked on the tracks in Silverton during the July 4 holiday.
The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

In Southwest Colorado, in the 1880s, Animas City expected big things. Railroads were expanding deeper into the state, and the Denver and Rio Grande was coming. But it stopped a couple of miles south of Animas City and built a depot and the new town of Durango.

Early rail lines laid through the mountains were narrow-gauge – three feet apart – and could, folks said, “curve on the brim of a sombrero.” This kind of flexibility would be necessary to get to the riches of Silverton – the main reason the D&RG was coming.

Over 8 months in the winter and spring of 1881 and 2, crews laid track up the Animas river, blasting rock and building bridges. By summer, the first steam train departed for Silverton from Durango, rolling right past Animas City. Animas City dissolved into Durango in the 1940s. But the train to Silverton is still on the track –  hauling thousands of tourists every year.

About Colorado Postcards

Colorado Postcards

Colorado Postcards are snapshots of our colorful state in sound. They give brief insights into our people and places, our flora and fauna, and our past and present, from every corner of Colorado.