Vandal targets owner of Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, but hits wrong house

Wednesday, July 11, 2018 12:31 PM

A vandal targeting the home of Al Harper, owner of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, hit the wrong house last week, writing graffiti on a neighbor’s house and damaging outdoor furniture.

The La Plata County Sheriff’s Office is looking for a suspect or suspects in the incident that occurred late July 3 or early July 4.

Sheriff’s Office spokesman Chris Burke said someone wrote graffiti in black marker “F– (expletive) the Train” on Harper’s neighbor’s house. The suspect or suspects also knocked over the patio table, chairs and plants outside the home.

“Evidently, they had the wrong house,” Burke said.

In all, there was about $20 in damages. However, it appears the vandals parked on the street and trespassed onto the property to get to the house, which is set back from the road.


Harper’s neighbors were out of town when the incident occurred, Burke said, and a family friend watching the house reported the vandalism around 12:30 p.m. July 4.

Burke said it’s speculation but “makes sense” that the attempted vandalism on Harper’s house is related to suspicions the D&SNG started the 416 Fire, which broke out June 1 next to the railroad’s tracks north of Durango.

The D&SNG suspended coal-fired steam engine service after the fire broke out. Harper has said the train will not resume coal-fired trips until rains relieve drought conditions.

The U.S. Forest Service said the cause of the fire remains under investigation. Witness accounts said the fire broke out just after the train passed by the Meadowridge subdivision around 9:45 a.m. June 1.

Burke said there were no suspects as of Monday morning. The Sheriff’s Office declined to release photos of the graffiti or property damage, citing the ongoing investigation.