The Durango and Silveton Railroad – My American Adventure Part 4

The final railroad I visited was the Durango & Silverton Railroad, probably the most famous one in the USA, and it is certainly a fantastic line. Once again, this was completely different to the previous railroad, but this time, for all of the right reasons.

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The train leaves the main depot and travels through the centre of the Durango, which is quite a sight, and people line the railway line watching the train go. I have been many times to this railroad, and this happens every day. We always travel in the open cars, as you can get some fantastic photos, without being blocked by glass. This can mean that with the unpredictable weather, as the train increase in altitude, rain is a virtue.

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The route to Silverton is an unforgettable journey along the spectacular Animas River. The Animas River is one of the last free-flowing rivers in the entire western United States. The route along the Animas, which begins high in the San Juan Mountains and ends in a confluence with the San Juan River in New Mexico, boasts some of Colorado’s most striking canyon scenery. Throughout the season, the river will rise from around 400 c.f.s (cubic feet per second) in April, to over 6,000 c.f.s at peak snowmelt runoff in June, and will mellow out again in September. The train crosses the river five times on its journey to Silverton, offering spectacular views from both sides of the train, and passes fertile farmlands, old stagecoach roads, the breathtaking “Highline”, the remote Tacoma Power Plant, old mining camps, and be in the shadow of peaks reaching over 14,000 feet, often with year-round snow! The full journey D&SNGRR travels 45.4 miles each way along the Animas River from Durango to Silverton during the summer season May through October. Despite I have never been in the winter, the winter trips in late November through early May, the train travels 26 miles each way to the wye at Cascade Station.

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Secluded in a mountain valley at an elevation of 9,318 feet, Silverton came into existence because of the rich treasures that the surrounding mountains hold. Though there are no longer any operating mines, the mining legacy pervades every aspect of the town, as a visit will show. It is a legacy that glitters in Silverton’s elaborate Victorian-era architecture, reflecting the millions of dollars drawn from the earth during the mining boom of the late 1800’s to early 1900’s.

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About 10 minutes before the train arrived in Silveton, the heavens opened, as we were getting soaked. Also, as the locomotive is coal powered, and had not been converted to oil burning, like the Grand Canyon Railway, and the Disneyland Railroad. So, we were wet, and covered in smuts. We needed some warm food to get our bodies back to normality. The Shady Lady Saloon and Restaurant is probably one of the best restaurants that I dined that when I was on my travels, with the Roast Beef, Mashed Potatoes and Sweetcorn, all served on Texas Toast and plenty of gravy. Warmed us up a treat! We then strolled around the town had a funnel cake, served with Strawberries and sugar, lovely!

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We then returned to our seats as the train had turned around, which did not take 2 hours! The seats, now wiped by the train staff, and the rain had stopped, we train departed to Durango. It is a fantastic railroad, and one of the best in the country. While I think the Cumbres and Toltec Railroad is probably the best of the two, either or both of these are a must. This route is a branch line of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, so both of them are a part of a massive American narrow gauge railroading history.

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Above is my video of the day, and below is more of the pictures of my visit, including some vintage Ford Model T I saw in the carpark.

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Thanks for reading.

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