About Sustain The Train


Sustain the Train is working to protect area lives, health, economy, and the environment by encouraging the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad to adopt cleaner, healthier, and safer practices that benefits our community and ensures a sustainable future.

The 2018 416 Fire traumatically impacted Durango, our visitors, and our neighbors.  As a result, in the fall of 2018, a diverse group of concerned local citizens from across the political spectrum came together to advocate for a long-term economically viable and sustainable path forward for the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad that acknowledges the train’s history in Southwest Colorado and importance to our community. The goal of the Sustain the Train group is to find forward-thinking ways to work with the train to keep our families, homes, and forests safe from fire; improve our air and water quality; provide for a healthy citizenry; and support a strong and resilient economy for our region now and into the future.

Who is Involved?

Small business owners, lifelong La Plata County residents, train buffs, doctors, transportation and tourism leaders, scientists, farmers, parents, historians, government officials, home owners, teachers, public health experts, members of religious communities, engineers, inventors and economists. We are a group that is open to anyone who shares our mission and wants to get involved.


Main areas of foci for the Sustain the Train group are to research and gather information around forward thinking solutions and next steps on topics like public health impacts through air quality monitoring, as well as sustainable and economically viable alternative fuel options.

Sustain the Train is currently focused on several areas that we have identified as being critical to both our mission and to the community. These include:

  • Community Information & EducationGiven the nuanced, complex, and at times technical nature of this topic, Sustain the Train wants to make sure that our community has accurate, factual, and complete information as it becomes available. Towards this end, we are committed to performing independent research when needed and possible, publishing accurate information, and calling out sources when they appear to be less than accurate.
  • Community Engagement We live in the Animas Watershed and at the foot at the San Juan Mountains because we love their beauty, environmental health, and all of the benefits that living here provide for us. We also love our vibrant and spirited community. Sustain the Train wants to maintain these treasured aspects of our life and we will work to provide ways for our neighbors to share your voice and fight for what you love.
  • Public Health & Air Quality Monitoring We care about our health -- yours, mine, and our children’s-- and are committed to ensuring that our air is safe. Particulate matter from coal combustion has been well documented for its negative impacts on respiratory health. Durango Southside residents who live close to the train station have cited complaints of coal soot piling up on doors and window sills for years and our community experienced the worst air quality in the world during the 2018 416 Fire. While the correlation between the health implications and our daily observations of coal soot is disturbing, there is currently no data to inform us of whether or not our air quality is safe here in Durango and the DSNGR corridor.
  • Alternative Fuels & TechnologyWouldn’t it be amazing if we could enjoy the grandeur of the DSNGRR steam locomotive crossing over the Animas River framed by a canopy of cottonwoods without the cloud of coal smoke or potential risk of fire from stray embers. The exciting news is that we can! Sustain the Train has been working with industry experts to explore alternative fuels and technologies that offer cleaner, safer alternatives to our coal-powered trains, without compromising the steam-fired aesthetic of the train. Ultimately, converting to cleaner, safer fuels is not a choice that you or I can make, but we hope that by presenting DSNGRR with viable and well-researched alternatives with the support of our community, the good folk at DSNGRR will make the neighborly and responsible choice and help protect the future of our community.