Saturday, October 5, 2013

CO Driving Trip - Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad - 9/11/2013

We have experienced a fair amount of rain as we travel on this trip.  Yesterday it rained right up to the time that we pulled into the Great Sand Dunes National Park and then it go sunny.  This day started out cloudy and rainy as you can see in the photos but about half way from Durango to Silverton, the sun came out and it was a beautiful day.

We are very lucky travelers.  We almost always have good weather on our trips.  We were really challenged on this trip given the fact that much of CO was flooding from the never ending heavy rains.  We did drive through some intense rain storms, but when the time came to get out of the car and tour, it usually got sunny.

The highlight of our two night stay in Durango was the narrow gauge train ride to Silverton and back.  We got on the train at 8:30 am and didn't return until nearly 6:00 pm.  Fortunately, we had nice seats on the train and we had a two hour stop in Silverton to break up the day.

The engine is a coal fired steam engine of the same type that tamed the West from a transportation standpoint.  The railroad's decision on where to lay track and where to put in watering stations and coal stores really made or broke many towns in the western US.  The conductor told us the the more modern diesel engines had a much harder time pulling the train up the mountain than the steam engine.  Interesting.

The depot in Durango where we got on the train.

Our Cabin Attendant waits for us to get on board.  He was full of great facts and entertained us through out the whole trip.  He also served drinks and snacks.  We were in the enclosed First Class car so we had it pretty good.

The entire route was mapped on the ceiling of the car.

The train follows the Animas River from Durango to Silverton and covers the 45 miles in 3 1/2 hours before retuning to Durango.  Sometimes the scenery is pastoral and sometime it is scary as the train rides on the very edge of a cliff with the river hundreds of feet below.

The Aspens were just about to turn color.  The white bark is a contrast to the lush green color of the other foliage.

There were lots of silver mining operations in the late 1800's.

The early train is set to return as we pulled into Silverton.

Sigrid and our engineer.

Silverton is a colorful little town that survives entirely on the tourist business.

We had a nice lunch at The Pickle Barrel.  I had a Kobe burger....very expensive and not much different than a regular beef burger.  I had to try it.

They have their own Hard Rock restaurant.

We would recommend this trip to anyone.  It is well worth it as a destination.

In the morning we head for Telluride.

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