On July 12, 2018, the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad resumed operations with its first steam powered train since the devastating 416 fire broke out on June 1 about 10 AM, ten miles north of Durango.
After 481 departed Durango with the 8 o’clock train, the 8:45 and 9:30 trains were combined as one and a rare double header would lead them to Silverton. Two K-28’s would be too heavy to take over the Animas bridge in Durango, so 476 departs early. 473 makes an on time departure at Durango leading 14 cars, including a box car behind the power.
In Hermosa, we can see the double header being created as 473 brings the train to a halt in front of the water tower.
While the train stops at Rockwood, we can observe the precautions that the railroad is taking to prevent another fire. Two rail motor cars with crews follow the train. One has fire suppression equipment. In addition, the D&SNGRR has chartered a helicopter to follow the train through the canyon with a water bucket.
It’s been raining every afternoon recently and hopefully the extreme fire danger has passed. The fire and the loss of the train has been financially devastating for the Animas Valley. Now that the train is back in service, don’t cancel those vacation plans! The ride from Durango to Silverton takes you through some of the most beautiful country in the world!
Time lapse of the 416 fire is courtesy of Jon Harvey.