Durango, CO to Farmington, NM
This line was built in 1902 by the Denver & Rio Grande Western in hopes of connecting to the AT&SF mainline at Gallup, NM (and also to deter AT&SF from building north into D&RGW's territory). At first, the line hauled agricultural products, then in the 1950s, as oil was discovered around Farmington, the line started seeing oil drilling equipment and piping traveling along its route.
This line has the possible unique status of being converted from standard gauge to narrow gauge. (Other lines, if converted, start out as narrow gauge lines and are converted to standard gauge lines.) The D&RGW, with intent on establishing a transfer point with the AT&SF at Gallup, built the line as a standard gauge line, with a change-over to narrow gauge at Antonio, CO, the line's northern terminus. However, the line never made it to Gallup, and the connection with the AT&SF was never made; this line was now considered a standard gauge "island" in an otherwise narrow gauge empire. This, of course, does not make operational sense, so the line was converted to narrow gauge in 1923.
The line was abandoned in the 1960s, and the rails and ties were taken up soon after. Portions of the grade can still be seen along US550; also traces can be found through Flora Vista, Aztec, and Cedar Hill and some of the Animas River bridge crossings are still intact.
At Durango, the right-of-way continues northward to Silverton, and forms the famed Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, an excursion passenger train that runs daily between its namesake towns.
Thanks to Dr. James H. Olsen, Jr., PE for contributing information.
This branch was built in 1905 to prevent a Harriman railroad from entering D&RG territory. The line was surveyed west to California, traveling from Farmington through Utah. It was abandoned in 1968.
I believe all the wells in the area were for natural gas. I don't think there are any oil wells in the Farmington area.
The San Juan Basis was primarily a natural gas producer but crude oil was also present in commercial quantities around Farmington and the Rattlesnake Oil Field near Shiprock, NM
The tracks weren't removed in Aztec until at least 1976 or 1977. I lived near the train station and vividly remember my parents driving over the tracks and my brother, neighbors, and I played on them after moving to the neighborhood in 1976.
Could Indian tribes build there own energy storage system
using old rail lines?
ARES Railroad storage of excess wind/solar electricity on abandoned railroads.