The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad's Polar Express train pulls into the North Pole, set up in the events area north of Durango. (Jerry McBride, Special to The Colorado Sun)

DURANGO — A rainstorm washed out a significant portion of tracks used by a popular railroad in southwest Colorado, effectively cutting off part of its route for months.

A storm in the past week or two brought down debris and caused a log jam at a bridge used by the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, The Cortez Journal reported Monday.

The railroad’s line from Durango to Silverton is expected to be out of service for the next eight to 16 weeks.

John Harper, general manager of railroad owner American Heritage Railways, said a hiker alerted rail officials about the jam at a bridge crossing Elk Creek, a tributary of the Animas River about 5 miles (8 kilometers) below Silverton.

The log jam caused Elk Creek to overflow and wash out more than 40 feet (12 meters) of the railroad’s tracks.

The railroad plans to make limited runs from Rockwood station to Cascade, which was not affected by the storm washout.

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