479 Main Avenue
Owner: The Harper Family
Tell us a little history about your business? How has it evolved over time?
The Harper family created the holding company known as American Heritage Railways in 1997. It purchased the Durango and Silverton Railroad in 1997 and then the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad 1998. AHR has purchased and sold many other railroads and with its events business, now has partners at 54 locations in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K.
What is your business' mission?
The mission of our company is the preservation and operation of the Great American Treasure known as the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. To accomplish this, we are preservationists, educators, and entertainers.
How do you support the community?
We employ just over 200 full and part time people per year. We support through donations and contributions over 200 not-for-profits annually. We estimate that we have an $200,000,000 economic impact on the community with the nearly 200,000 visitors we attract each year.
How do you see your company growing in the future? Anything new on the horizon?
The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is a part of American Heritage Railways (AHR) based here in Durango, CO. AHR owns three railroads, an event company, hotel, and numerous other operations. We are always looking at new ventures and branded events!
What are some specific challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
In a business such as ours there are constant challenges. Climate change, new technology, and the difficulties of blending historic equipment with modern needs and public demand is ever present. The solution has always been to surround yourself with very talented, and energetic people.
What inspires you? Favorite quote?
What inspires me the most is the beauty and opportunity god put before us every day. Perhaps one of the greatest quotes was from my father who said, "We are all wealthy because the greatest wealth we have are ideas. There is never a shortage or lack of ideas". It is up to us to use this wealth.