A mighty tight fit. Durango & Silverton's K-36 #482 looks as if she's passing a wall of ancient stone carvings, as she tip-toes along the High Line with Train 261, the daily Cascade Canyon Turn. Alas, there are no hieroglyphics from an ancient civilization on these rock walls. Just the scars left behind more than a century ago, when real men with picks, shovels and gunpowder created a narrow rock shelf just wide enough for a little train to make its way from Durango up to Silverton.
For all of line's existence under the Denver & Rio Grande Western, little Consolidations and Mikados were the only power that could be used here. The clearances on some of these rocky ledges were just barely good enough for a K-28. When the D&RGW finally gave up the line in the early 1980s, and sold it to the newly-formed Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, it became necessary to make some major improvements to the ROW in order to accommodate larger locomotives, such as the K-36s and K-37s, which would be powerful enough to handle the anticipated passenger demand. A lot of the tight spots were widened slightly, and over time, bridges were beefed up to handle the loads. Even now however, you can see that it's still a tight fit, and 482's engine man is likely not about to stick his head out the window as he traverses the famous High Line.
The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad and the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad are all that remains of the legendary Denver & Rio Grande Western narrow gauge system. Here you'll find some of my favorites from these two beautiful railways.