Around the Thousand-Mile Circle

In the late nineteenth and early part of the twentieth century, the Rio Grande heavily advertised the “Narrow Gauge Circle,” (though by 1915 parts were standard gauge). This consisted of a loop starting in Pueblo, going south to Alamosa and west to Antonito and Durango on the Denver & Rio Grande, then the Rio Grande Southern west to Dolores and north to Ridgeway, then back on the D&RG to Montrose, and east across the mountains through Gunnison and Salida back to Pueblo. Alternatively, from Durango people could take the D&RG due north to Silverton, then a stagecoach over the what eventually became the “million-dollar highway” to Ouray, then back on the train to Ridgeway.

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The Rio Grande Southern was a separate railroad but the Denver & Rio Grande had control of it for much of its life. Today, two narrow gauge portions of the Narrow Gauge Circle remain: Antonito to Chama and Durango to Silverton, both of which are incredibly beautiful. A few other portions remain in standard gauge, including Pueblo south to Cuchara Junction and Pueblo west through the Royal Gorge.

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