Ride the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
The D&SNGRR offers a variety of tours and packages, although most of the packages (railroad ride plus offsight adventure) are
not available for the 2021 season. There are one-way or round trip fares. Round trip standard coach is ~ $100 per adult and
one-way I think is the same. First class coach is ~ $200 and up. I'm not sure what you get when riding in a first class coach
because I've never done it. I got the price information off the D&SNGRR website July of 2021, but prices and tours are subject
to change. You can also ride in an open air gondola for about the same price as standard coach. If riding in a gondola
be prepared for cool temperatures and possibly smoke and embers from coal burning steam engines. Refreshments can be purchased on the train.
The Silverton Diesel Train departs at 8:00AM daily and offers wilderness access for backpackers. The Silverton Steam Train departs at 9:00AM and does not make many stops. We are taking a one-way trip on a Silverton Steam Train so that we can spend more time bumming around Silverton. I've sent one of my minions ahead with transportation back to Durango. We'll be riding in a standard coach (the "Shenandoah"). It's 45.4 miles to Silverton, so all aboard and let's get going.
Our train pulls out of the Durango station at 9:00AM and drives right through the middle of town. Passengers are excited and noisy.
On our way
Various businesses are located along the track all the way out of Durango. Two of them that I photographed on earlier trips, Bueno Tiempo Ranch (2000) and Glider Rides (2011), are now permanently closed. Businesses come and businesses go.
After leaving Durango we proceed up the Animas Valley with the tracks running between U.S. Hwy 550 and the Animas River. The tracks pretty much parallel U.S. Hwy 550 for about 15 or 16 miles before turning east and then north along the Animas River. Our train climbs up Animas Canyon traversing the "Highline" section of the route a few hundred feet above the Animas River. There are spectacular views of the San Juans and the river along this section.
After traversing the Highline the train gradually descends to the Animas River. The tracks then continue along the river for the remainder of the way to Silverton.
We pass the Tacoma Power Station, Tall Timber Depot and Cascade Canyon Wye and arive at the Needleton Flagstop. There is a brief stop to let backpackers off who are going to hike the Chicago Basin Trail (15 miles out and back). After that we head into Silverton, passing the Needleton Water Tank, an old railroad bridge, and a mine along the way. You may have noticed that the banks of the Animas are colored orange as we approach Silverton. This was caused by deposition of minerals in mine wastewater that found its way into the Animas (not a good thing).
Traveling along the Animas
Bird's Eye View
We've arrived in Silverton and exit the coach near the Silverton station. Before heading into town take some time to wander around the rail yard. There is a lot of interesting train stuff here. The speeders pictured below are used for track inspection, maintenance, and repair.
We've come to the end or our ride on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge. Now it's time to explore Silverton, do some shopping, and have lunch before catching our ride back to Durango. Check out the photoessay, "Silverton", to learn more about this old western mining town. Thanks for "riding the rails" on the D&SNGRR.
The engines of D&SNGRR
Engine numbers 473, 476, and 478 are class K-28 (2-8-2) locomotives built in 1923. Engines 480, 481, 482, and 486 are class K-36 (2-8-2) built in 1925. 493 and 498 are class K-37 (2-8-2) built in 1928 and 1930, respectively. The class letter indicates the wheel arrangement (in this case 2-8-2, a pair of smaller wheels in front, 4 pairs of large wheels in the middle, and a pair of smaller wheels in the rear). The class number designates engines of similar design. D&SNGRR also has 10 diesel locomotives. Engines 473 and 480 were converted from coal burning to oil burning in May of 2021.
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