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The Durango Railroad Historical Society needs your help to keep Locomotive D&RGW 315 operational for another 15 years. The engine is required to undergo a Federal Railroad Administration 49 CFR part 230, 1472 service day inspection before May 2022 to remain operational.

The locomotive is the second oldest operating, FRA compliant, steam locomotive in Colorado or New Mexico. The locomotive was built in July of 1895 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works. The engine was delivered to the Florence and Cripple Creek Railroad on July 25, 1896. The locomotive is 125 years old this year. The engine represents a living piece of history having operated on the Florence and Cripple Creek Railroad, throughout the Denver and Rio Grande narrow gauge circle, over the Rio Grande Southern and on both remaining portions of the narrow gauge system in Colorado and New Mexico. In 2007 the volunteers of the Durango Railroad Historical Society returned the engine to operating condition after it had been sitting on display in Durango for 57 years. The 315 was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2008. The City of Durango transferred ownership of the locomotive to the Durango Railroad Historical Society in 2014.

The inspection will require removal of the cab, all appliances, inspection of the boiler shell, replacement of all the fire tubes and then reassembly of the locomotive.

The C&TS RR has agreed to perform the boiler work required for the inspection during the winter of 2021-22.

The Society’s volunteers will assist with the inspection work. The total estimated cost to keep the 315 operational for another 15 years is $70,000.

The Ryan Family of NY have challenged DRHS to raise the funds needed for the inspection. The Ryan’s are matching the donations raised over the next 45 days to ensure the 315 continues to operate. Your donation effectively is doubled through the Ryan’s generosity.

Thank you for supporting the Durango Railroad Historical Society and continued operation of the D&RGW 315. You can use this PayPal link for donations.

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.

25% State Tax CREDIT for Colorado Residents

The inspection work to be performed by the C&TS RR is covered by the Conejos County Enterprise Zone project through the C&TS RR.

Colorado Residents who donate to the 315’s 1472 service day inspection are eligible for a 25% Colorado State Tax Credit by submitting a check for their donation to;

Durango Railroad Historical Society 315 1472 Inspection P.O. Box 654 Durango CO, 81302

Please include the last 4 digits of your Social Security number, your return address, phone number along with your check to ensure we can get your Colorado State tax credit certificate to you.

August 12th 2020  



It has always been within the DRHS mandate to build a permanent structure to display and preserve the narrow gauge freight and work cars that volunteers have restored since 2008. Over the years we had scoured the Animas Valley for a suitable site. Eventually the search brought us to collaboration with the San Juan County Historical Society. Their ownership of the Silverton Northern engine house in Silverton made them natural partners. In 2014 through the generosity of the Durango and Silverton Scenic Railroad we secured an easement over land next to the Shenandoah siding in Silverton but that was as far as it went. />

The agreed plan was for a 230-foot long building that would house twelve cars on two parallel tracks with a viewing platform in between. It would be built between the SN engine house and the D&S and former SN depots.

In 2014 we obtained quotes for a two-track, open shed to protect the cars from Silverton’s harsh mountain elements. Quite apart from the beating the cars were getting from a 9300-foot climate we were also running out of space for all the cars! We could not pursue the project at this time because of lack of enough funds for it as well as ongoing car restoration projects.

The commitment never went away. In 2019 we put the design out to for bids. The most favourable quote was from National Barn who agreed to start work in August of this year. At the start of the year we had no idea how we were going to fund the project. We already had the commitment of D&RGW 315’s major inspection, the 1472, next year so we had to account for that as well.

Track bed graded, track laid. D&S Shenandoah siding on the left.

We decided to have a special fund raising campaign for the car shed starting early this year and for the 315 later in the year. We also applied for grants from some foundations. But the pandemic stopped everything dead and our income prospects fell from barely adequate to nearly zero! We had some donations but it was clear that it was going to be a slow process raising the money to pay the contractor. Then something amazing happened: two donors came forward and between them covered the majority of the cost of the car shed. Other individuals have also contributed many thousands of dollars so we have enough to have a contingency fund.

The Car shed and occupants. The SN engine noise and oil shed are on the right. Jeff Ellingson, Curator of the D&SSRR Museum, drew this visualisation for us.

It means that erection work of the car shed will commence at the start of August. The track bed has already been graded, rail laid and ballasted, it just remains for the contractor to do his bit.

July 17th 2020


D&RGW REEFER 39, ITS HISTORY AND RESTORATION. Reefer 39 completed and awaiting trucking to Silverton.

DRHS Board member Duane Danielson recently gave a lecture on the history of refrigeration and the railroads use of reefers to bring fresh food to more remote part of the United States. The D&RGW was no exception both on the narrow and standard gauges. Duane went in search of a surviving narrow gauge reefer for the DRHS to buy and restore. It formed part of the DRHS’s commitment to preserve as many different types of D&RGW freight and work cars that were once common sights on the railroads in South West Colorado. He found two suitable cars, one of which, #39, has been fully restored and is now on display in Silverton

The presentation was recorded and can be seen on YouTube HERE