5th January, 2023. During the restoration of the 315 in 2001–07 we examined the entire locomotive thoroughly, paying special attention to all moving parts in order to restore it to as near perfect operating condition as possible. Two major items were left unrestored, the front and rear flue sheets, which had small cracks. They would have been expensive to replace, so were simply repaired on advice from experts who were confidant they would last for the next 15 years, when the next mandatory FRA inspection, the 1472, would be due.

315’s firebox prepared for the first steam test since 2021 which took place successfully on 4th January 2023.

So we anticipated a relatively easy inspection in 2021-22, and budgeted $70,000 for the task, with most of the work carried out by C&TS, we started to seek funds in July 2020. But at the end of the 2021 operating season the dynamo was failing and the driver thrust bearings required replacing, so the budget was increased to $80,000, but we still planned to have the 315 running again in time for C&TS opening day in June 2022.

However, the inspection revealed many unforeseen problems: (1) cab wood rot, (2) turret main shut off valve, (3) excessive right cylinder wear, (4) ash pan holes, (5) rear flue sheet knuckle, (6) washout plugs, (7) worn suspension pins, (8) driver journal box seats, (9) right injector to name but the main ones. These items have greatly increased the time to complete the restoration. But it’s the cost of the repairs which has rocketed to an eye-watering $220,000 – almost $140,000 over budget and $105,000 more than the special 315 Fund raised back in 2020! The Durango Railroad Historical Society needs your help in covering those extra expenses. The ‘315 – THE LAST FEW MILES’ fund seeks to cover all of the extra work and materials we needed to carry out not just to comply with the FRA’s 1472 but to help keep the 315 running for the next 15 years.

Please send your check to DRHS, Box 654, Durango, CO 81302 or make your donation via PayPal using the ‘Donate’ button below.

Thank you.



4th November, 2021. Antonito NM. We’ve been preparing for the 315’s FRA examination known as the 1472 which takes place every 15 years or 1472 days on running which ever comes first.  That time has come and DRHS volunteers have stripped off all the appliances, cab, even the boiler jacket in prepatation of the boiler and other tests! Those who attended the Victorian Iron Horse Rally might find the result startling but those many volunteers  involved in the restoration work back in the day in Santa Rita Park, Durango will find the sight more familiar.

We’ll bring you regular reports on the progress of the 1472 right here – a unique opportunity to see what it takes to keep the 315 runnng. Work is expected to be finished by spring 2022.

Here’s our gang of’strippers’. The DRHS crew (unless noted otherwise), L to R: Dave Taylor, Erin Swain, Gene Lincoln, Joe Weigman, Max Casias (C&TS), Tom Artzberger, Russell Thomas, Zell Olson (C&TS), Andrew Hill, Mike Heuser, Scott Gibbs.  Not pictured: Dave Hibl (photographer).


Chama NM and Antonito CO. August 21 -29, 2021

Saturday 21st August marked the start of a unique event to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad. The Victorian Iron Horse Roundup featured four Victorian locomotives, the Eureka and the Glenbrook from Nevada, both built in 1875, recently restored T-12 D&RGW from 1880, plus our own D&RGW C-18, 315 in its D&RG guise of 425. They hauled consists of historic passenger and freight cars, recreating images of railroading in pre 20th century Colorado. Scenes like these have not been seen for nearly 140 years.

Visit the NEW Gallery for more photographs of this unique and historic event.

The event kicked off with a 168/ 425 double header out of Chama. Based on Chama NM and Antonito CO there were plenty of free events open to the public during the week-long celebrations.

This was one of the last occasions that the 315 appeared in public this year. This fall, work will commence on the locomotives’ FRA certificate, known as the ‘1472’, which involves a major strip down of the boiler and running gear and takes place every 15 years (or 1472 operational days which ever is the sooner) that the locomotive runs. Work is expected to be completed by spring of 2022.

The 315/ 425 lined up in Antonito together with D&RG 168, RGS 20 and Eureka & Palisade ‘Eureka’ #4. (Photos: Dave Hibl, DRHS Crew)



Thursday 27th October. A D&S crew has moved all the DRHS freight and work cars onto the two railcar display tracks in the railcar shed, the first time all of the restored cars have been under cover at the same time. There were fears that snowfalls  earlier in the week might prevent the move but in the end the weather played along.

Last week a D&S crew of three fixed the main switch from our original SN track to the two railcar display tracks. Padlocks and chains from around a wheel on each car were removed in preparation for the move.


The final stages of the restoration of movie locomotive ‘Emma Sweeny’ have been continuing in Santa Rita park. We had hangers made for the four panels of two informative signs. One set is about Emma Sweeny and railroad movies filmed in the Animas Valley. The other focuses on the locomotives’ features and operations. The first two panels have been installed on the fence. We continue making repairs, installing parts, prepping for paint, and painting parts. Broken glass in the front doors was replaced with Lexan.



The railcars display track and shed are part of the joint strategic plan with the San Juan County Historical Society (SJCHS) to create a Historical Railroad Park in Silverton to restore, display and maintain railroad equipment and to inform the public about the importance of narrow gauge railroads to the development of southwest Colorado.

In 2020 the 36-ft wide by 224-ft long car shed was built. Essentially it is an open pole shed to provide easy access and viewing by the public at any time. The shed is important in helping to protect the railcars from sun and weather. We learned how important the shed would be when we investigated acquiring a restored trolley car from Aspen several years ago and found that it needed major restoration again after sitting outside with no protection for 15 years. In 2021 we added the DRHS logo as signs at both ends of the shed. Read more HERE



D&RGW Freight Cars

Durango Railroad Historical Society is comprised of a dedicated group of individuals who are united by their interest in narrow gauge railroading and focus on the preservation of southwest Colorado’s railroad history.

The Durango Railroad Historical Society is a non-profit corporation in Colorado and is a public charity under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.