Saturday, October 1, 2016

A Very Special Train Ride!

Ken and I left a little before 7 and drove to downtown Durango for our ride on the narrow gauge (rails 3' apart instead of the regular 4' 8 1/2") Durango and Silverton Railroad. The rails have to be close together because there was so little room to work with on the side of the mountains. It was about 47 degrees but sunny and beautiful. We were early, so we stopped at the French Bakery for a raspberry strudel which we saved to eat on the train.

They hooked up the engine and the coal car and we left the station at 8.

Time to hook-up Engine #480 for the ride!

Of course, we need some "fuel", about 6 tons of it for
the ride up and back!

There were about 12 cars on our train!

It was a 3 1/2 hour ride to Silverton and positively gorgeous.  There were times you could touch the rocks on both sides of the canyon and also rode so close to the edge of the mountain that it was a bit scary, but terrific.  We had seats in an enclosed car (thank goodness, because it was fairly cool on the way up the mountain and no heat on the train!). You were free to move around, so we spent a lot of our time on the 2nd part of the upward climb on the open car so Ken could take pictures.  We had brought numerous layers, so we were able to keep warm.

While on the train, we rode by our CG!

You are going to have to put up with more breathtaking
scenery pictures!  We just can't help ourselves!  Believe
it or not, this is about 1/8 of the photos Ken took on the ride!

The beginning of the ride was rather chilly for these folks
in the open air car!

The train really clings to the edge of the mountain!

A long way to fall!

Time to let off some steam!

I am having a great time!

The inside of the car was simple but nicely renovated!

We past several waterfalls, but extremely hard
to get a photo.  Trees always seemed to be
in the way of the falls!

One of the old mining sites!

We arrived at Silverton at 11:40 and walked right to the Handlebar Saloon, the eatery that numerous people had told us was the best restaurant in town.  They were absolutely right and many other people must have been told the same thing.  The place was "packed", but they were extremely efficient and we only waited about 10 minutes.  We shared their 1/2 pound green chile burger and their award winning chili.  Both were excellent.  Then they suggested we have their fresh baked peach cobbler.  So, we shared that too and it was scrumptious. 

That is Silverton off in the distance!

Lots of things and animals all around the Handlebar Saloon
for decoration!

This "was" the delicious peach cobbler complete with
vanilla ice cream and lots of whipped cream!

We had about an hour to walk around the town before we were back on the train for the return trip to Durango. 

Many of the shops had Indian and Western type wares.....

.....and a beautiful backdrop!

Lots more gorgeous sites to view when you are going in the opposite direction. 
(I forewarned you that there are lots of pictures of the amazing sites along this ride!)  The train ride provides many views of the water in the area.  When driving the car along the main road you see lots of colorful trees, but not too much water!

A railroad bridge of the past!

Another place where we are "hanging" on the edge....

.....and more....

......and more!

We were back to the station by 5:15 very glad that we had decided to take the ride.

Just some info on the train.  There was the steam engine, coal car, concession car, and 9 passenger cars, including 2 open ones.  This train route was built from 1881 - 1882 for the mining industry that was flourishing in the area.  In the 1950's when mining was all but gone, the railroad was forced to look for new ways to bolster profits.  In the 1950's the railroad struck paydirt again with the fame and fortune of the big screen as Hollywood came to town.  Many movies were filmed in the area and the tourism quickly ensued.  In 1981 Charles Bradshaw purchased the railroad and ordered tremendous upgrades to the rails and equipment.  By the early 1990's approximately 200,000 people rode the train annually.  

The engine used for our ride today was the 1st one built in 1925 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia, PA. - engine #480.  It is a steam, coal engine that used 6 tons of coal on our round trip today and does it ever "steam" and "smoke".  If you are in an open car, you can see the soot on your face and clothing!

After a quick trip to Wal-Mart we were back to the CG by 6:30.  It was another long day but another activity we can take off Ken's bucket list.  This ride really was an adventure! 


  1. Wow! Now that looked like a really fun day!!

  2. That ride is on our list of things to do. Surprisingly, Colorado is one state we have not yet visited.