Experience our Colorful History in the D&SNGRR Railroad Museums
The D&SNG offers two great museums we are proud to share with history and railroad buffs from around the world. Exhibits are added frequently and admission is FREE so visit often!
In Durango, tucked in the back of the rail yard, you’ll discover the 12,000-square-foot D&SNG Railroad Museum. The Museum was created in 1998 utilizing 8 stalls of the ‘new’ 15-stall roundhouse built in 1989. It is the only narrow gauge roundhouse built in the 20th century and was built after the tragic roundhouse fire of February 1989. The silver lining when the 1881 roundhouse burned was the opportunity to build an all-new facility with modern lighting, heat, and machine shop. The larger structure allowed the chance to open a Museum to share railroad memories with the world. Many families and old railroad workers have donated or provided artifacts that tell the history of railroading, especially on the D&RGW line. An 800-square-foot model railroad was donated as a shell and brought to life by thousands of volunteer hours to depict the 1950s operations of the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad including trains passing a Drive-In theater!
The museum staff is knowledgeable in the history and current affairs of the local railroad. With a large selection of railroad history books, the staff is available as a great resource to help you find more information. Permanent displays include lanterns, locks & keys, photographs, paintings and many of the tools of railroading. Steam locomotives, railroad cars and other equipment dating back to the 1880s are available to see up-close. Adults and kids alike will enjoy the chance to explore the cab of a locomotive, see the view from the fireman and engineer’s seats, and handle the levers and gauges they have only seen from afar. A baggage car used in the1969 movie “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” is now a movie theatre. Business car B-7, built in 1880 and beautifully restored in 2001 as the owners’ private family car, is usually on display to see what it was like to travel the rails in the 19th century. The Museum is the terminus of the Polar Express train and for a couple of weeks is also the home of Durango’s Community Connections Inc.’s annual fundraiser “Festival of Trees”.
Pre-arranged, guided tours are offered during business hours and introduce many school-age children to the story of railroading in Durango.
In Silverton, by taking a short walk or drive to the Silverton Depot at 10th and Cement Streets, you will open the doors to the history of the rail and mining industry. During its heyday, three railroads operated out of Silverton! Although it was built as a temporary structure in 1882 and was bombed in 1975, the Silverton Depot still stands as a testimony to the strength and endurance of the townsfolk in this mountain town. The Baldwin Locomotive #493 that was originally built in 1902 and converted to narrow gauge in 1928 is on display in the freight yard along with many pieces of rolling stock. The Depot is open on dates when the train is operating to Silverton.
The Silverton Museum is open May through October and the Durango Museum is open year-round corresponding with the passenger service train schedule. Please check with the ticket office for exact dates and times.
Both museums are overseen by our curator Jeff Ellingson, a D&SNG employee since 1986, watercolor artist and historian.
For a fee, Yard Tours are available May-October and give you a chance to see the inner workings of the D&SNG. The one-hour tour allows you access to some the restricted areas of the yard, machine shop, roundhouse and car shop with one of our experienced tour guides. Call ahead to reserve your ticket to join one of our twice-daily tours. Spaces are limited!
To see more photos, visit the Museum Album on our Facebook page.
Be sure to come visit our Museums and see all that we have to share with you! For more information call our Ticket Office at 888-TRAIN-07 (872-4607).
New exhibit March 2012!
On the one-year anniversary of the opening of Durango's newest museum, the "Discovery Museum", it was connected to the D&S Museum via the 19th century technology of the telegraph. It was a project the two museums had been working on for over a year. With donations from D&SNG owner Al Harper and the family of the late artist Russell Steel and with the experience of ham radio operator Capp Allen, it became a reality. Amos Cordova, whose career with the D&RGW & D&SNG spanned 36 years and included literally thousands of telegraph messages across the metal lines, eagerly sat at the table and clicked out the first train orders sent in Morse code in decades!
So that the adults and kids don't have to fight over who goes first, there are two telegraph stations set up in each museum. Besides the 19th century telegraph button, you can also type messages using a 1940s-type bug or on a modern-day keyboard that converts the signal into international Morse code and lets you read the message you are typing on a monitor. You can choose to hear your message in typical railroad telegraph clicks or in beeps as used in nautical transmissions. Messages can be sent and received at either the other telegraph station in the same museum or across the wires to the telegraph station at the Discovery Museum. Be a part of history and experience the reliable means of telecommunications crucial to safe railroading!
Winter: Open 1 p.m. - 4 p.m. on dates the train is running.
Summer Train Season: Open daily 7 a.m - 7 p.m. peak season and 7 a.m. - 6 p.m. May, early June and October.
Summer Train Season: open daily 10:30 a.m. until last train leaves Silverton
Closed November - early May (until train returns service to Silverton).
Click here to go to Summer Train Season schedule.
Click here to go to Winter Cascade Canyon schedule.
Be sure to ask about our behind-the-scenes tours of the Durango yard and shops!
Click here to go to our Yard Tour page!
Here is what some visitors wrote on Trip Advisor:
"Free Museum is fun for train lovers as well as casual tourists" Reviewed August 24, 2011. Visited August 2011 from Dallas, Texas: We didn't go on the train ride as we took a driving tour of the the San Juan Loop instead, but the museum was a wonderful slice of history. Not only is there info on the various trains/railways in the area, but the working round table is fun to watch in action. The museum has artifacts from the past, maps, mini train displays, full size train displays, newspapers, and more. ...It was definitely worth a stop to see.
"Its a must to do when you are in Durango" Reviewed March 24, 2012 by visitors from Bordeaux, France: Well kept and a wealth of information and activities to keep children and adults alike happy and occupied.
If you enjoy history, please visit other Museums in the Durango area:
Be sure to visit the Animas Museum! www.animasmuseum.org Show your D&S train ticket to receive $1.00 off Adult Admission, $.50 off child admission and $5.00 off an annual Membership!
Visit Durango's Discovery Museum at www.durangodiscovery.org
In Silverton visit San Juan Historical Society Museum in Silverton CO
At Mesa Verde visit the Anasazi Heritage Center