Durango, CO, home to Colorado Trails Dude Ranch, was recently ranked #5 out of 10 Western towns named the “Truest Western Towns” by True West magazine. The magazine, which has been creating these top 10 list for the past eight years, stated that Durango’s celebration of its Old West history in general and its rich history as a railroad town in particular were what earned it a spot in the top 10.
Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
The railroad line that put Durango on the map on the 19th century, and which continues to earn the city accolades in the 21st century, is the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad (D&SNG). Originally built in 1881 to carry silver and gold ore from the nearby San Juan Mountains, the line connected Silverton, CO, south to Durango and again to Antonio, NM.
As a train serving miners, their supplies and their ore, the D&SNG did not actually last for very long. By the end of the 19th century, mining operations in the Western United States were already slowing down. The days of the gold and silver rushes that had characterized the mid-19th century were gone; there were hardly enough customers to justify the line’s continued existence.
Despite low volume, combined with landslides and snow storms that damaged the tracks in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the D&SNG limped along for several decades. After World War II, Americans started to visit the West as tourists in higher numbers. Tourism turned out to be the D&SNG’s saving grace; the line had been featured in several Hollywood movies and everyone wanted to see it in person. By the 1950s, the D&SNG was thriving again. Today, the D&SNG is one of the few places in the United States where an authentic steam engine still runs.
Other Attractions in Durango
The railroad is certainly not the only thing to see in Durango. While you and your family enjoy your all inclusive family vacations at nearby Colorado Trails, be sure to spend at least a day in Durango to visit their museums, their historic downtown and, of course, the Durango Melodrama & Vaudeville at the Henry Strater Theatre.
In all, we think that you’ll agree with True West magazine that Durango deserves the honor of being listed as one of the top Western towns in the United States.