DISPLAY TRACK AND SHED COMPLETED
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. The park is supported by several other organizations: the Galloping Goose Society of Dolores permanently donated most of the rails and ties, the Town of Silverton gave permission to build track on its street right of way, and the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad (D&S) gave an easement for the railcars display track, car shed, platform, and permission to connect to their track. The pair of railcars display tracks runs from the northwest corner of the D&S depot westward to the Silverton Northern (SN) track near the SN engine house.
We had the area surveyed and engineering drawings produced in 2017, then revised in 2018. The 60 lb. and 75 lb. rails permanently loaned by the Galloping Goose Historical Society of Dolores had been stockpiled since June 2017. We purchased ties, #6 turnouts and other track materials in the summer of 2018. Work began in October 2018 with construction of the grade and addition of a base course of ballast.
In 2019 a track crew from Utah cut in the first turnout on an existing curve of the SN track immediately north of the SN turnout to the D&S Shenandoah Loop, then laid a second turnout to two parallel display tracks, each about 220 feet long. After the track was laid ballast was added. The pair of tracks has space for a dozen railcars.
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.
As soon as final adjustments are made to the display tracks we will move our railcars onto them. Currently, eight of the twelve cars are restored. Beside each restored car is an interpretive sign about its history and significance. In the future, for the convenience and better access by visitors, we plan to add a platform at car floor level. We plan to provide easy access to the public with a path between the engine house and car shed, including ramps to the platform for wheelchairs.
This was an expensive project. Funding for the track was supported with grants from the Gates Family Foundation in Denver and the El Pomar Foundation in Colorado Springs, along with donations by DRHS members. About 90% of the car shed was funded by donations from John Manley and the Neal Ryan family of New York; the remainder by DRHS members.
When D&S sold the north rail yard, between College (6th) Street and 12th Street, except for its main line, our hopes for displaying our restored railcars in Durango disappeared. After pursing several possible sites along the D&S track in and north of Durango, the solution came via a joint vision of DRHS and the San Juan County Historical Society (SJCHS) to create the Silverton Historical Railroad Park.
The Park is centered on the SN engine house, oil shed, and track. Additional tracks will be added for displaying up to a dozen railcars and their interpretive signs. The SN oil shed will be reconstructed and rehabilitated for practical use by DRHS and SJCHS.
The Durango Railroad Historical Society and the San Juan County Historical Society are the principal partners. Other partners are the Town of Silverton (permission to place track on the Cement Street right of way), Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad (permission to connect to their track and an easement for two display tracks and car shed on their property), Galloping Goose Society of Dolores (permanent loan of track and ties), and City of Durango (first, permission to store Locomotive 315 in Silverton, then transfer ownership of the 315 to DRHS).
Silverton Northern (SN) engine house as storage and maintenance facility
Three blocks of reconstructed SN track along for Cement Street for use in testing the 315 and temporary use in displaying railcars
Full restoration of engine house with insulation, heat, electricity, water, bathroom (State Historical Fund supported assessment completed).
Outfitting a metal shop and a wood shop at the back of the engine house
Reconstruction of the SN oil shed as a combined office, library, conference room, break room
Use of the engine house also as a museum for displaying railroad artifacts
Double display tracks in a line between the SN engine house and the D&S depot
The rail yard as a private yard, not open to commercial use, per agreement with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission
Raised platform at car floor level between the double tracks
Shed over the double tracks and platform to protect cars from sun, rain, and snow
Easy access to the public with path between engine house and depot, including ramps to the platform for wheelchairs
Interpretive signs on platform about history and significance of each car
Interpretive sign about the development of ancient trails to railroads and vehicle roads
Interpretive sign about the four railroads that served Silverton
Extra cars beside engine house for storage
DRHS leads projects dealing with tracks, car shed, platform, 315 operation and maintenance, D&RGW railcars restoration, and interpretive signs.
SJCHS leads projects dealing with SN engine house restoration, SN oil shed reconstruction and rehabilitation, SN railcars restoration, and Silverton Railroad (SRR) railcars restoration.
STATUS OF RAILROAD PARK
SN track and spur along Cement Street, with dock
SN engine house track and service pits
SN engine front foundation and railroad doors
Easement with D&S for display tracks and car shed
Reefer 54 placed beside engine house for storage
SN oil shed reconstructed as office, library, conference room, break room
Restore Reefer 54 body cosmetically and add shelving for storage
Double SN display tracks between SN engine house and D&S depot for twelve railcars
Raised platform with interpretive signs between display tracks
Car shed to cover twelve railcars
SN engine house restoration completed as a living museum
Short storage track on easterly side of SN engine house for 3–4 railcars
All these projects are equally important in preserving our fragile railroad history. Please consider supporting us financially either by becoming a member of the DRHS or by making a donation of your choice via PayPal. We carry no administrative charges and ALL donations go directly into our restoration projects.
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.