Riding the narrow gauge rails

Durango and Silverton, Colorado

May 22, 2013

I had the pleasure to take a ride on a historic, coal-fired, steam-powered train through the backcountry wilderness of the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado. It was an amazing journey with echoes of times past.

The 45 mile ride starts in the historic district of downtown Durango, Colorado.  This is the first trestle we cross on our ride though  beautiful forests, valleys, canyons and the well known highline.


After leaving the lush green valley of Durango, the train chugs into the vast forest of the the San Juan National Forest.  I am in the last open air gondola, hanging over the edge to shoot this image from the moving train as it rounds the bend.









The Denver & Rio Grande Railway arrived in Durango on August 5, 1881 and construction on the line began in the fall of that year.  By July of 1882 the tracks to Silverton were completed.  The line was constructed to haul silver and gold ore from the mountains, but passengers soon realized it was the view that was truly precious. Today the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.

The train travels through some of the very best scenery that Colorado has to offer.  This is the Animas River as it flows to Durango at about 9,500 feet of elevation. It is running fast with the spring snow melt.









Another view as the train climbs and rounds a sharp corner following the contours of the mountain.


I took over a 1,000 shots on the ride up to Silverton and back to Durango.  If you ever get the chance to ride this great old train, don’t miss it.

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