Friday, April 1, 2011

Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

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Vintage, smoking steam locomotives are just downright cool.  A ride on the Durango-to-Silverton narrow gauge railroad (36 inches apart, versus the standard 56.5 inches) takes you back to the old wild west of the mining days in Colorado.  The movie, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, was filmed in the area and used the train (man, I miss Paul Newman).  The train chugs through pastoral farm lands and on up through the San Juan Forest of the Colorado Rockies with the Animas River cutting a deep channel through the rocks and the little track following along the cliff side looking down at the water.

altWe elected to ride first-class, and it was worth it!  We had the last car and shared with only four other lucky couples. We met some wonderful people including Cheryl and Chantel, a mother and daughter enjoying the day together on the train (cute, aren’t they?).  The best part about first-class was exclusive access to stand outside on the back platform—kind of a whistle-stop campaign feeling.  The luxury car ticket came with free gifts (logo mugs, tote bags, and pins identifying the #480 steam-powered locomotive) and free drinks and pastries.  Our attendant was a former field geologist from Alaska; so not only did we get information about the train and the history of the railway from her, but also a wealth of information about the rock formations along the way. 

altIMG_1653Occasionally, we would hang our heads out the window and get hit with a puff of black smoke and a few cinders hitting our face.   The steam engine requires a fireman shoveling about 5 tons of coal into the firebox and the stops to take on water—lots and lots of water to make mucho steam.  Downright cool, right?

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