Model Train Mountain Scenery: Historic D&RGW Silverton

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When brainstorming designs and layouts for model train mountain scenery, there are few better places in the country to look for inspiration than on the tracks of D&RGW. Winding through the mountains and spanning much of Colorado, the path of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad features some of the most remarkable landscapes and feats of human engineering. Along the way, you’ll discover towns, peoples and breathtaking natural formations that can remind what happens when American spirit meets untapped resources and challenging terrain.

To paint a picture of his own model train mountain scenery that he designed after the D&RGW Railroad in its heyday, modeler Doug Tagsold gives a brief history of the Durango to Silverton portion of the railway. In this video you’ll learn a bit about the initial construction of D&RGW, and discover how the railway has evolved since its inception. With Doug’s rundown, you’ll hopefully pick up a few ideas for model train mountain scenery that you can use in your next scale build.

Uncovering the history of D&RGW Silverton

Doug begins his rundown by explaining why, despite its original plan to head south to Mexico, the D&RGW turned its intentions westward to the foothills and mine shafts of the Rockies and Rio Grande. Similar to a number of railroads built in the west during the 20th century, D&RGW was a product of improvisation and necessity. In the mid-1900s, industry was the central focus of railways in the west, which was certainly the case for the portion that runs from Durango to Silverton, the northernmost stretch of D&RGW.

Once the mountains’ resources were largely depleted in the ’50s, the amount of runs from Durango to Silverton dwindled, and so the focus of these tracks and their locomotives once again shifted. With Hollywood setting up camp in the hills and using the beautiful model train mountain scenery of high-country Colorado as backdrop for such movies as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Silverton became a hotbed for tourism and relaxing getaways.

In the decades that followed industry’s departure from the Colorado mountains, the Silverton to Durango stretch of D&RGW has been preserved in its former glory and remains in operation as a museum to the people and communities that once worked and lived on its tracks. To get a sense of how Silverton looked in its prime, you can take a tour of Doug’s model train mountain scenery and enjoy the sights and sounds of small-scale D&RGW!

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