This winter's heavy snowfall and avalanches have buried the railroad tracks.

The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is digging out from this winter's record-breaking snowfall and massive avalanches. The train's tracks are buried in snow and debris up to 60 feet deep! A team that includes two bulldozers and one excavator have been working for weeks to remove the snow.

D&SNG crews annually survey the situation from the air to see if avalanches should be triggered to avoid future risks. The decision was made that indeed a dynamite induced avalanche would be required. A photo crew flying overhead shot video of the event that's since gone viral after the D&SNG crews triggered an avalanche that buried the Animas River. Jim Donovan, the Director of the San Juan County Office of Emergency Management, said that "...the avalanche was near Needleton and put 60 feet of snow and debris on the tracks. He also added that there's not a concern at this time the avalanche would cause a damming of the Animas River."

Removing snow from the tracks is an annual project. The ongoing drought has made the last couple of years a fairly easy task. This year, it's nothing short of monumental!  Crews have been working for weeks to dig out the tracks. It's likely too the tracks have sustained damage. With avalanches and snowpack at nearly 160% above normal, track damage is almost a certainty.

The digging will continue for weeks as full-service of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is scheduled to resume on May 4th.

Credit: The Durango Herald