Mo & Terry Smedley


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Part III - Durango & Silverton Railroad

We ride the Durango & Silverton Railroad to Silverton, through the stunning Animas River Canyon.

This is the most popular of the Colorado tourist railroads.  We rode this train some 30 years ago, and we're anxious to do it again.

The D&S is privately owned, and appears to be well-funded and operated with attention to preserving this very special history.  Our ride was everything I remembered it to be.  The High Line is breathtaking.  Hearing the stack talk (chug chug chug sound) while climbing out of Durango was especially pleasing.   The engine was making rather well-timed "paradiddle" sounds (have to be a drummer to understand that one).

The locomotives on the D&S are 2-8-2s (so-called Mikados), which were (and by extension still are) state-of-the-art steam locomotives.  One of the locomotives in use today is #482, a K-36 locomotive built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1925.  The locomotive shops in Durango are capable of fabricating just about any piece that might be needed for these engines.   It's very satisfying to watch these magnificent machines in operation.


Our first tourist train ride is on the Durango & Silverton.  A crowd awaits the first of three trains that depart Durango for Silverton this morning. The 8:30AM train departs Durango, after which we board our 9:00AM train.  So many passengers today that an extra (third) train is added at 9:30AM. The D&S makes its way up the Animas River Canyon, A stop to water the locomotive. 
In Silverton, the train pulls right into town... the middle of the gravel roads that is the main street. Silverton and gravel roads. Look what Mo found in Silverton!
No relation, and unfortunately I wasn't feeling up to ice cream,. Fellow tour member Elwin LeFevre at the Silverton station.  We traveled with Elwin a couple of years ago on our Appalachian Autumn rail tour. The first train departs Silverton for the return trip to Durango. Cabooses as "cabins" in Silverton.
Terry at Silverton station awaiting our return trip. Tour leaders Carl Fowler and Denny Thompson in Silverton. Crossing the Animas River.  The steam blowdown is mostly for show - if the sun catches it just right, you can see a bright rainbow in the water vapor. For several miles, the route passes over the "High Line", which hugs the rock cliffs 500 feet or so above the canyon floor.
You can see the narrow shelf that was blasted out of the canyon walls for the railroad bed. It's a long, steep drop down into the canyon!   Looking back at our train on the High Line.  Look in the lower right corner of the picture to see the Animas River in the canyon below.
  Mo at the controls of a steam locomotive in the museum in Durango.