Thursday, 3 August 2017

The Durango Kids

It sounds like it should be a cowboy town, but Durango's real claim to fame is being a railway town on the Denver and Santa Fe system and home to what is probably the most famous narrow gauge steam railway in the world, mostly because it has been on the television so many times. It was on our route (conveniently) and a ride on the line has been on my "bucket list" for ever.

Conveniently, the line ran through our campground and we were given a site in the first row, so we were as close to the line as we could possibly get.

The view from our site

We stayed for three nights, which gave us two whole days in town. One was dedicated to the train ride to Silverton, so on our first full day, we took the local bus the 5 miles into town. It cost us just $1 each return.

Downtown Durango
The railway depot has a museum located in the roundhouse, built to replace the original building that burnt down. It seems most Western towns have burned down more than once and Durango is no exception!

Our closest encounter with a bear. This one was stuffed.
And then the trip to Silverton the following day. On our day of travel, there were three return services to Silverton; one of which was run in two parts, so in total there were to be four trains running each way. We were on the second departure, so we arrived early to watch the action

Durango grinds to a halt as the trains leave. There are many ungated crossings, so the bells ring and the whistle is sounded continuously all the way through the town.

It's a holiday, so with all thoughts of cost cast to the wind, we have paid to travel First Class and have the end seats in the final carriage with easy access to the rear platform to hang out for pictures.

Our seats in the First Class Parlor Car. Ann has adopted her characteristic on holiday "film star" look with the large sunglasses

The line climbs all the way, following the course of the Animas river most of the way. To begin with, the climb is quite gentle, through trees.

Before long, we have arrived at what is called the "High Line". This is a shelf the width of the train that has been blasted into a 1000 feet high cliff. The cliff extends 600 feet above and therefore the drop into the rapids below is 400 feet. If you don't like heights, do not look down. At this point, I'm hanging off the rear platform to get the best view.

Curving around the wide part of the highline. I'm at the back of the train taking pictures.

Looking down into the canyon and the rocks 400 feet below. I'm at the back of the train, now hanging over the canyon taking pictures.
The line crosses back and forth over the river and the question is always which side is the best to sit? It doesn't make a huge difference as the train is turned around for the return journey, but it did seem to be working harder on the journey to Silverton, so my suggestion would be that a seat on the right side is probably better - and that is what we did.

Approaching Silverton, the scenery becomes pure mountain and trees.

The old depot at Silverton is no longer used, so the train just pulls up in the street, rather like a tram!

With all the original mines now being worked out, Silverton is now a tourist town. We managed to choose probably the worst restaurant in town for lunch! It served pasties, which is about right as the pasty is an international miner's food. But not at all like the proper Cornish pasty, even though the same shape. I think the content was a mix of left overs and washing water. The beer was OK, though.  We had a stroll through Silverton. Or as we are out West, maybe that should be a "mosey"

The only paved street in town

A ride around the town in the stagecoach was an option, but we chose to walk
Time to leave...  We are in the same seats on the way back, but as the train has been turned around, we are now on the opposite side, so the scenery is quite different.

We were intending on a meal out on our return, but the effect of lunch was still with us, so it was back to the RV and a simple salad. Good points: Durango is an interesting town; the train trip and wandering around Silverton. Bad bits; It is high in the mountains and hot, hot, hot! Hard to believe it gets cut off in the winter by the snow.

If you have enjoyed looking at these pictures and others in this blog, they are available in higher quality and resolution at my gallery where you can purchase prints, artwork and gift items.

No comments:

Post a Comment