By Justin Franz
DURANGO, Colo. — The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is resuming operations this week although it could be months before excursions reach the historic mining town of Silverton following a “devastating” washout in the Animas River Canyon.
On Tuesday, the D&SNG began offering excursions from Rockwood to Cascade Canyon behind steam and diesel locomotives. It is the first time the railroad has offered public excursions since March when it was forced to shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic. Railroad officials have said trains will be running at reduced capacity to encourage social distancing. Trains will run Tuesday through Saturday. Steam excursions will depart at 9 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. A diesel excursions will depart at 9 a.m., after the steam train. Depending on capacity, the railroad may also add a 12:15 p.m. diesel excursion. Due to fire danger, the railroad is using its newly-restored oil-burning 2-8-2 493.
The railroad had hoped to offer excursions on the full 45-mile route between Durango and Silverton before the end of the summer — based on the recommendation of local health officials — but that is now complicated by a washout just south of Silverton. A log jam on Elk Creek, a tributary of the Animas, washed a bridge out and railroad officials tell the Durango Herald it will take at least two months to repair.