July 7, 2009. David Hibl photographed the general area of the SN track project, looking north northwest from Kendall Mountain. The line of railcars are on the D&S Shenandoah Loop, with the SN engine house centered behind them, with the 315 parked in front of it. The SN track would extend a block and a half southerly from the engine house and another block and a half northerly to 10th St, a block from the D&S depot, shown at far right center.
The main purpose of this project is make use of the Silverton Northern engine house as a place to store D&RGW 315 and railbus Casey Jones in wintertime and to reconstruct track from inside the engine house to the D&S track. Trackage includes the two stalls in the 1912 Silverton Northern engine house, a three block section along Cement Street between 7th and 10th Streets, and a switchback connecting to the old D&RGW loop (now D&S) – a total of about 1700 feet of track. A loading dock is located at the 7th Street end.
At the SN engine house we restored the large engine doors and frames and their foundation. We are restoring the pits and track for the two stalls. The left pit is deeper and built with three layers of heavy beams to support an engine. The right pit is shallower and built with a single, lighter beam to support a rail car.
An interpretative sign about the four railroads that once served Silverton and mountain mines was produced. Three copies of the 2 x 3-ft sign will be displayed at the D&S depot, the visitor center, and the intersection of 12th and Blair Streets, where the D&S engines stop. Copies of the sign on shiny 11×17-inch paper will be on sale in Silverton and by DRHS and SJCHS for $2 each with all profits going to the SN engine house restoration fund.
The project began in spring 2009 and was essentially completed fall 2010. Once the snow clears and ground thaws in late spring, final adjustments will be made to track alignment, ballast will be dressed up, and the new electric service line will be completed.
This is a joint project between the Durango Railroad Historical Society (DRHS) and the San Juan County Historical Society (SJCHS), which owns the engine house. Partners in the project include (1) the Galloping Goose Historical Society of Dolores, which supplied rails and most of the ties, (2) Town of Silverton, which allowed us to lay track on Cement Street, (3) D&SNG, which allowed us to make a connection to their Shenandoah Loop, and (4) the City of Durango, which owns the 315 and allows it to be stored in Silverton.
The engine house will serve other purposes: (1) as a car shop for restoring and maintaining railcars, beginning with the 1880 SN caboose #1005, the oldest in the state, (2) as a museum displaying RR artifacts, and (3) a place to house and service visiting rail vehicles, such as the Galloping Geese from Dolores, Ridgway, and Golden and the ‘pop cars’ and other rail vehicles from all over the country.
The track provides a connection to the D&S for operations during special events, such as Railfest. The track along Cement Street will provide a place to test operation independent of D&S, to avoid potential scheduling conflicts on D&S tracks and unnecessary communication with the D&S dispatcher. The track will provide a place to display restored railcars and their interpretative signs.
To create a Railroad Historical Park as a permanent location alongside the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad (D&S) to display railroad equipment and interpretive signs and a place to restore and maintain the equipment. Silverton offers the space that was unavailable in Durango. It fits with the SJCHS plan to develop the railroad area as another living museum, by restoring and reconstructing buildings that will serve a useful purpose as museums and workshops. It fits with the plans of the D&S to continue to develop their Silverton yard into a display of rail equipment. The trails group in Silverton is working with D&S to provide a trail from the visitor center through their yard. We have discussed adding a parallel trail by our display track and the SN engine house.
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.