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The Durango & Silverton Railroad 7/17/2008

by Chris Guenzler

After a restful night at the Best Western Rio Grande Inn and a good breakfast, we checked out and stored our bags in the rental car. While we take the train the car will remain here. We walked over to the Durango & Silverton Train Station and picked up our tickets. We all ended up in the same open car. After storing my stuff at my reserved seat, I walked to the front of the train for a picture and the consist.

Our 8:15 AM Departure consisted of Steam Engine K-36 2-8-2 486, Combination 213 Bitter Creek Mine, Coach Coach 335 Elk Park, 337 San Juan, Open Car 400, Concession 566, Coach 323{no name}, Open Car 402, Open Car 406, 631 North Star, Open Car 410 Rio Grande and B-2 Cinco Animas. The train left promptly at 8:15 AM for the roundtrip to Silverton, Colorado. We passed through downtown Durango behind the many stores and other buildings that line the tracks. The whistle sounds for every grade crossing and the steam of coal burning opens up your nostrils.

The view to the west as we leave Durango.

Our train crossing the Animas River for the first of many times today and we passed the Colorado Fish Hatchery.

We follow this bike path that was not here on my last visit nor were the condominiums. Durango has sure grown from my last visit here back in 1984.

More color in the north valley wall.

The train passed Home Ranch Siding north of the United Campground that my parents once stayed at. The tracks run right through the middle of this unique campground.

A look back towards Durango as now we are out in the open countryside.

A look up the valley which we are traveling.

There was a sharp bend in the Animas River.

The tracks cross Fall Creek. The train passed through Hermosa and crossed US Highway 550 and started climbing the grade.

Looking down into the valley.

Our engine climbing the grade.

The train taking a curve.

The train was running by a milepost sign.

The valley floor is now way below.

Our train looks great against the green back and foregrounds.

The train ran beneath the US 550 Overpass.

A look back at the B-2 Cinco Animas.

The train ran by Shalona Lake.

Our train went by the Rockwood sign.

The train ran through Rockwood.

At Rockwood there was a brief stop for passengers were made. This is the last highway access to the line until Silverton.

The train passed through the Rockwood Cut.

The train then started across the "Shelf" Track.

Our train now enters the San Juan National Forest.

The Animas River far below.

The Animas River signpost as we start across the "High Line".

The train always looks great on this section of the railroad.

Looking down at the Animas River.

A view of the rear of the train.

A look back at where we just were.

A great view of the Animas River.

Two more views of the train and the Animas River.

Two views of the Animas River.

The look back at the rear of our train.

Another look back.

Looking down towards the Animas River.

The train continues to climb up the grade.

It is a long way down to the Animas River.

The train is running along the Animas River.

Looking back once more.

The train crossed the Animas River on the High Bridge, an iron deck-truss bridge 130 feet long, built in 1880.

Our train is now rolling north along the Animas River.

The Animas River.

The train ran by the Colorado-Ute Electric Association's Tacoma power plant.

The trip along the Animas River is one of the most beautiful runs in the entire United States.

I love looking at rapids and the Animas River Canyon has plenty of those.

Our engine continues to work hard pulling our train up the grade along the Animas River.

Two views of the Animas River.

The train keeps climbing.

A view looking back.

More rapids on the Animas River. The train stopped at Tank Creek to take water for our engine.

The valley opens up to a small park setting where several movies have been filmed including a favorite of mine, "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid".

The Tall Timber Resort where "Zipping" from tree to tree is seen from passing trains.

Any person with a love of geology would love this train trip. I only wish Maureen Angle, my all time favorite science teacher, could see all this.

A view ahead and a view behind.

A tumbling river and hard working steam engine makes for a perfect day in my life.

The perfect spot for a picnic!

The train is closing in on Cascade Canyon.

Cascade Canyon. There is a wye here that the trains in the winter use to turn around as they do not go to Silverton in the off season.

One leg of the Cascade Canyon Wye.

There is plenty of impressive geology on these mountains along our route.

A look up a side canyon to the west.

The train crossed the Animas River.

The train continued to climb the grade as a heavy thunderstorm started.

Our train ran by the Cascade Siding signpost as the rain poured down. The open cars on the Durango & Silverton Railroad have roofs on them to keep the sun or rain off of you.

Chris Parker enjoying himself on his first trip aboard the Durango & Silverton Railroad.

Click here for Part 2 of this trip!