Reconstruction of at least a small stretch of the historic Silverton Northern Railroad could begin as early as this summer if organizers can raise about $7,500 for the project.
“The idea is to lay 200 or 300 feet of track as a demonstration project at the powerhouse,” said Fritz Klinke, who is leading the effort for the San Juan County Historical Society. “The main issue we’re facing now is money.”
Klinke said he has secured a mile of track for the project. But there’s a need for 300 to 400 ties and other supplies. He estimated the cost for materials might reach $6,500 to $7,500.
The railroad is planning to launch a crowdfunding effort online, similar to the one the fire department used to raise more than $10,000 to pay for the new ladder truck.
Meanwhile, donations may be sent to San Juan County Historical Society, P.O. Box 154, Silverton, CO 81433.
The San Juan County Historical Society announced its ambitious plan to rebuild the 2-1/2-mile section of the old Silverton Northern Railroad from the Powerhouse Industrial Park to Howardsville in August 2010.
Since then a lot of preliminary planning has been done as well as the rounding up of possible donors, sources of rail and ties, and rail stock to be borrowed for use on the line.
Historical society officials said the idea underlining the rebuilding effort is economic development — to develop a locally operated passenger-excursion train based in Silverton.
The historical society owns property at both ends of the proposed line. It is developing the Powerhouse Industrial Park and two years ago it acquired the Little Nations Mill in Howardsville as a donation.
Klinke, meeting with a handful of supporters Wednesday, said “there’s a lot more to this than playing train. There’s marketing, public relations, fundraising …”
He pointed out the only expense incurred by the newly formed railroad so far is the $99 paid for the 99-year lease on County Road 22.
To get a couple of hundred feet of track on the ground this summer will take a lot of work and a few thousand dollars.
“We want to show that we have a piece of track out there,” Klinke said. “We could get a car or two for an exhibit.”