SOUTH FORK — For the past several years the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad leading out of South Fork has been closed since owner Don Shank put the line up for sale. Through the years, many efforts have been made to either purchase the line or revert it back to its natural state with none coming to fruition. Now, through combined efforts with a new venture, Shank has announced and started an adventure biking opportunity.
Shank made it clear when he put the line up for sale that he wanted to see the tourism opportunity it presents continue. Through the years, Shank has looked for every opportunity to see that the line be used for pretty much anything besides storage of rail cars and found a chance to do just that. Shank found a company out of New York that has created special bikes that can be used on the rail for tourism and the results are everything anyone could ask for.
“We always came to South Fork to ride the train going up towards Creede and when the line stopped, we were really sad about it. But this year when we came up and heard that there was another way to enjoy the scenery from town going up the canyon, we were over the moon,” said part-time South Fork resident Molly Schafer.
This was the sentiment throughout the weekend in South Fork as hundreds of guests gathered everyday at the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad Station just north of town to experience Revolution Rail. Founders Rob Hart and Mike Dupee came up with the idea of using abandoned rail lines to promote tourism and offer a unique opportunity for guests to experience the rails through their own power. The company has four locations back east and now their newest addition in South Fork.
Right now, the trip is about two hours long and takes riders up to the Collier River access area roughly three miles out of town. Guests gather at the depot station and hit the tracks on easy ride rail bikes that can be adjusted and ridden by just about anyone of any age and ability.
Director of Operations and partner, Ed LaScala talked about the company’s history and how they got started, “Our headquarters is in North Creek, New York and that is where we started in 2017 and now, we have about 100 bikes spread out between all five locations. Just in North Creek location alone last year, we did over 30,000 rides. It has really taken off and now we have collaborated with Don Shank to expand here in South Fork. People really love rail biking. Its easy, fun and leisurely. It also gives people a chance to see the rails like never before.
“This is such a multi-generational recreation activity. What I mean by that is, we can have a grandfather that is here with his children and his grandchildren, and they can all get out and enjoy this with each other. They can do it together. That’s a memory they will have forever. They may not be able to ski with grandpa or raft with him, but they can do this and that is what matters. That is what we are about.”
LaScala stated that while out on the rides, they have a historian on board that talks about he history of the rails and the area and they allow a decent amount of time for each ride so that guests can really enjoy the experience.
“Guests can stop and take pictures, see the geological scenery and hear about the history and as we get going, we will start to add to the experience,” LaScala said.
Revolution Rails changed South Fork over the weekend. For more information or to book a trip, visit www.revrail.com.