"Silverton, Colorado" Silverton by JeanCooke

Silverton Travel Guide: 14 reviews and 38 photos

Steaming along the railroad

SILVERTON & DURANGO RAILROAD http://www.durangorailway.com/

Chugging into Durango, Colorado, the picture postcard perfect Silverton & Durango Railroad captures the essence of long ago where women in long dresses shopped and cowboys tipped hats in greeting. This quaint Victorian town lies at 6,512 feet in the southwest corner of Colorado, surrounded by pine forests and colorful quaking aspen groves in the San Juan Mountains. I fell in love with Durango.

“All Abooooaard”, signaled passengers to settle in for a relaxing ride into the River of Lost Souls. Winter passengers can select a heated coach or parlor car. Take either the roundtrip all day train with 2 hour stop in Silverton, or a bus one way and the train the other like we did.

The chugging heartbeat steam rhythm sets the pace along one of the prettiest and rugged river valleys you’ll ever see. Breathe fresh mountain air while letting go of stress on tracks that carried miners, precious gold and silver, then tourists for 120 years.

A massive engineering undertaking with nature always the master during downpours and avalanches, pieces of rusty rail still poke higgidy piggidy out of the Animas River along with a few old bridges. The Animas River meanders through narrow back canyons as the train slows over thin terrain, coming so close to rock cuts that I didn’t want to sneeze.

Taking on water at Needleton tank from a long spigot, men on the train roof looked like characters from a John Wayne movie. I can imagine my Irish ancestors doing the same. As the train passed over High Bridge wooden trestle, letting off side steam twice proved a spectacular show.

S&D railroad serves tourists, carries supplies for remote cabins, and drops and picks up backpackers on arrangement. A boxcar stows their backpacks, but where the smelly backpackers went, I did not see. Per Jason Lee, “The backpackers are generally going to the Chicago Basin--home of several of Colorado's 14,000 foot peaks and an especially secluded area to backpack/climb.” An exclusive golf resort, Tall Timber Resort, originally "Ah! Wilderness” Dude Ranch from 1852-1985 is accessed only by train or helicopter. The large Resort meadow hosts an annual S&D fall photographer special.

The only wildlife we saw was two magnificently racked buck and four chipmunks but plenty of big horn sheep, elk and bear inhabit this valley.

Nearing Durango, guys were treated to a trackside woman exposing her breasts, then bare buttocks mooning the train to loud hoots and cheers.

HARDROCK MINING FESTIVAL

HARDROCK FESTIVAL--entrants demonstrate difficult skills of drilling, mucking, spiking, tug-o-war and wheelbarrow racing. Picnickers blanket the hillside for ringside seats. Incredible five-person tug-o-war teams lay on a ribbed wooden board. An anchorperson in harness bends backwards, red with exertion, holding ground. Judges measure distance in inches while onlookers cheer.

The single man drilling contestant assembles massive drill pieces, runs to a granite block and drills two precise holes—not very easy as the powerful water drill bounces off the rock--then runs back to disassemble everything and throw up triumphant shaky arms.

Hardrock contests are held wherever mines exist across the US.

  • Last visit to Silverton: Aug 2002
  • Intro Written Jan 16, 2003
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JeanCooke

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