By Railfan & Railroad Staff
SILVERTON, Colo. — For perhaps the first time since the 1880s, a steam-powered passenger train will not operate to the tiny mountain hamlet of Silverton, Colo. Late last week, the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad announced that it would not be resuming regular excursions to Silverton before the end of the year. The railroad is still offering shorter trips to Cascade Canyon through the spectacular Animas River Canyon from Rockwood.
Railroad officials said resuming passenger service in Silverton in 2020 “remains unattainable due to an unfortunate combination of factors,” including COVID-19 and an ongoing dispute with the U.S. Forest Service about fire mitigation along the right-of-way and repairing a washout near Silverton.
Trains first reached Silverton in 1882 and have come back every year since. Earlier this spring, the railroad operated a train to deliver supplies to the town but otherwise the rails to the small town have been quiet this summer. The railroad is running three steam excursions a day out of Rockwood behind its newly restored 2-8-2 K-37 locomotive 493. It also runs one or two diesel excursions per day as well. While trains are not presently running out of Durango, the depot, gift shop and museum are all still open daily. Tours of the roundhouse and Durango rail yard are offered three times a day.