It saddens me to see all of the anti-steam train sentiment following the 416 Fire. Durango was founded by the railroad for the purpose of being a railroad town.
Durango is a true gem, a living page of the history book. I have had the pleasure to ride trains all over the world, but keep coming back to Durango, because it is so unique, people truly come from around the world.
I work at a steam railway, and people want to watch the fireman shovel the coal; oil’s not the same. I fully understand that some modern concessions are necessary, but calling out Al Harper, and attempting to vandalise his home, is certainly not the answer.
At one point, I even heard a comment about pulling up the rails to Silverton, which would be a true loss, comparable with the loss of the Eiffel Tower. As for the suggestions about diesel and electric, the train runs on 3-foot rails, for which the last U.S. diesel was built in 1969. Diesel locomotives are not that clean, either; they just lack visible toxins, but in some cases are more dangerous.
I wish everyone would realize that without the railroad, Silverton would disappear and Durango would suffer. Sure not everyone comes just for the train, but it is the “whole package,” with the mountains and train that makes Durango so special.
So many communities got rid of their trains and regret it. Durango survived; please don’t make the same mistake.