Durango and Silverton’s railroad continues to struggle, to the detriment of the company and both communities. Applying physical distancing created an uneconomic business. Narrow gauge passenger cars are not very wide or long, and the reduced seat spacing would have severely cut revenue.
To balance the length of the trip with ticket prices, only the section between Rockwood and Cascade Creek made economic sense. That does include the spectacular High Line, which consistently produces a gasp from passengers.
Last Monday afternoon, locomotive 493, which spent almost two years being expensively outfitted to run on oil rather than coal, reducing fire danger, took a long string of cars from Durango to Rockwood for a select run. The railroad’s expectation to eventually run some trips to Silverton, from the Rockwood boarding, cheered Silverton business owners. Silverton is accessible by highway, but the train has always brought summer prosperity to restaurants and souvenir shops (including to the railroad’s own Grand Imperial Hotel).
But last week we also learned that the tracks south of Silverton, adjacent to a bridge over Elk Creek, had been washed out. There will be a train to Silverton, from Durango. But not for a while.