DENVER – Colorado’s Byways Commission is asking the state Transportation Commission to approve and designate a new Scenic and Historic Byway through southwestern Colorado and northern New Mexico.
The proposed Tracks Across Borders Byway would follow the route of the historic narrow gauge portion of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad (D&RG) between Durango, CO. and Chama, NM. Many segments include travel on the original railroad grade, near many railroad remnants and through numerous ghost towns. In addition to travel through two states, it also would offer stories related to the Native American and Hispanic cultures and stunning scenery.
A primary feature of the proposed Byway is one of Colorado’s greatest stories – the creation and development of the D&RG, the state’s first, and ultimately the nation’s largest, narrow gauge railroad system. This Byway also would link two of Colorado’s most important and existing historic narrow gauge railroads - the Durango & Silverton Railroad and the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad - both remaining parts of the San Juan Extension built in the early 1880’s.
The proposed route would travel the following roadways – south and east from Durango:
· U.S. 160 south and east to State Highway 172
· State Highway 172 to Ignacio
· State Highway 151 to north of Arboles
· Archuleta County roads 500 and 551 east and south into New Mexico
· Rio Arriba County road in New Mexico east to Dulce
· U.S. 64 east to Chama, NM
“Byway designation helps identify, interpret, and protect significant and irreplaceable resources along its route,” said Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad Colorado Commissioner Dan Love. “It can also assist in promoting economic development by increasing visitor traffic and providing common goals to the communities and major land owners along the route.”
Colorado’s Transportation Commission is expected to review and vote on designating the new Byway at its regular monthly meeting on Thursday, April 16. New Mexico’s Transportation Commission is expected to review and approve their portion of the Byway on May 21.
The last time Colorado added a Byway to its program was in 2005.
Colorado’s Byways program is celebrating 26 years of service to tourists and the state’s economy by designating routes that provide exceptional scenic, historical, cultural, and recreational opportunities.
For additional publications or more information about the Scenic and Historic Byways, please visit www.ColoradoByways.org.