Founded in 1881, the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is one of the must see attractions in Durango, CO. The rail station is in the heart of downtown and Durangoans are familiar with the sight of the iron engine chugging out of the station near Main Street, steam billowing from it’s stack into the cool morning sky.
The Iron Horse of Durango has been carrying passengers since 1882 and beginning in 1951 was promoted solely as a passenger train. The trip up to Silverton and back is some of the most scenic in Colorado. A “narrow gauge” railroad runs on a 36″ track instead of a 56 1/2″ track. The narrower gauge helps in constructing the rail through tight mountain regions. Just take the ride and you’ll know why it’s narrow!
Over 150,000+ passengers per year enjoy this trip just for the views or for other special events, such as the The Polar Express Train in December, Peanuts – The Great Pumpkin Patch Express in October, Hops & Hops Easter (and hoppy beer) Train, and Iron Horse Bicycle Classic Train. These are just a few of the 20+ events that the railroad runs annually for it’s guests.
The oldest part of this train in use is concession car #212, built in 1879. At 140 years old, they sure don’t make them like they used to! The engines used for the train were built in 1923 and 1925. It really is an awesome piece of living history that we can still enjoy high in the western mountains of Colorado.
We hope you didn’t come to Durango to be in a hurry, because the top speed of the train is 18mph (did we mention the engines are almost 100 years old?). This is certainly not the average as the speed at the highline is 5mph. This will give you plenty of time to take it all in.
It is an impressive ride that takes an equally impressive amount of energy to get to make the 90 mile round trip. Five employees are needed to man the train; two in the engine, two on the brakes, and one conductor. This is not counting additional staff needed to handle food and other passenger needs.
This monster of a steam engine uses 6 tons of coal and 10,000 gallons of water to power the trip! Although due to recent fire concerns, the railroad purchased two diesel locomotives in 2018 for when dry conditions warrant.
Take the ride today!