Tuesday, October 8, 2013

2013 Western Trip – Silverton & Ouray – D&SNG

No visit to Durango, CO would be complete without a shopping trip to Silverton and Ouray, so my job was to pilot the car over the curvy mountain roads for the ladies (I don’t do shopping).  Last year, we were in awe driving up the red rock canyon north of Durango, but after coming from Moab, Arches, and Canyonlands, it was just ho-hum, more red rocks - it's all relative you know.

We were anxious to see the hillsides of golden Aspens again this year but for whatever reason (maybe too much rain) most were still totally green, verses the shot from the same time last year.

The rain did have one positive aspect as most streams were running very full and creating many falls - this shot was using max zoom on my 250mm lens.

While the ladies shopped, I toured the area and I don’t know why, but Silverton seemed a little more prosperous looking this year, perhaps because all of the rain had the dust washed off of everything or there was more fresh paint. 

I also checked out the two Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge trains that arrived while I was there.  This is a trip I thought I always wanted to make but none of us were willing to pony up the $85 cheap seat fare, especially since we visited the town by car – I might have considered $40.

“The route was originally built between 1881 and 1882, by the Denver and Rio Grande Railway, in order to carry supplies and people to and silver and gold ore from mines in the San Juan Mountains.”  “In 1950, the railroad adorned a locomotive and four coaches with a colorful paint scheme and launched modest public promotion. With this effort, "The Painted Train" officially started a new era of tourism that continues to this day.”  “By the 1960s, a modernized D&RGW did not see the Silverton Branch as worthy to maintain and a petition was filed with governmental agencies to abandon the route.”  “The D&SNG was founded by Charles Bradshaw Jr., of Florida, with intent of purchasing the 45-miles of right-of-way and equipment while expanding the infrastructure and passenger revenue. His plans were fulfilled with the March 1981 acquisition of the D&RGW's 45-mile (72 km) Silverton branch and all of its structures and rolling stock.” – Wikipedia excerpts.

The two trains I saw were pulled by Mikados (2-8-2) built along with eight others by Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1925 specifically for use on the narrow gauge D&RGW.  This is No. 486 backing out of the loading area after dropping off it’s passengers.

Forty-five minutes later No. 481 came past the old station.

It then came up to the unloading platform with 10 passenger cars that appeared to be full (even the $175/seat First Class car) – which surprised me for this time of year.  The engineer and conductor check out the train.  You can ride one way in the cab with the engineer and fireman for a mere $1000 - wow.

After the passengers left, No. 481 backed out to the waiting and turn-around area.

It takes the train 3½ hours to make the 45 mile trip from Durango to Silverton and about an hour by car.

From Silverton, we went on up to Ouray for a little more shopping and I found the Ouray Brewery's tap room and restaurant.  The beers for the day were a blond, IPA, double IPA, brown, and red.

I sampled the last three beers while waiting for the shoppers and bought a half gallon of double IPA to take back to the RV.  We loved the bar swings supported by ski lift cables.

Later that day, after we had returned to the campground, I went across the road to get this shot of No. 481 returning - about six miles north of the Durango station. 

Photos best if enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


9/17/2013 event date


  1. What's is say that what I remember most from this post was the double IPA? I love IPA's!

  2. We thought about taking this train trip, but the price put us off as well. I enjoyed your photos of the engines, however. The scenery of the area is definitely magnificent.

  3. Larry, We've been to Durango but we've never made it to Silverton or Ouray. We really liked Durango and from your photos, the other two towns would also be right up our alley! Love the train photos...and we will take that rail trip the next time we're out in Colorado. Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

  4. Love the trains. Can you imagine what it took to build the tracks!

  5. We are rarely go for the double IPAs. For us, they tend to get a bit mediciny with double the malt and hops.

  6. Gee, "Big Dude" doesn't do shopping? Stop the presses. Or maybe not. Dudes in my house don't do shopping, either. I wouldn't pay that much for the cheap train seats, either, but your wandering around town was nice enough.

  7. That is my kind of shopping when you can hang out in a microbrewery.

  8. Yikes, that is a bit steep for a train ride.. even if the train is pretty cool :) I love the Durango area.. actually, I love Colorado.. it's so beautiful!!

  9. Had no idea that train was so expensive... BUT--I still would love to do it since I LOVE trains... Since I'm not a shopper (at all), maybe I would save enough money to take the train ride....Ya think????? ha (Bet George is glad that I'm not a shopper.. There are just too many other things to see and do!)


  10. I love how you describe the places you visit. Your photos are wonderful, Larry. I hope you enjoy the remainder of your trip. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  11. Larry, you took excellent photos of that train! Seriously! I wouldn't have paid $85 for a train ticket either. Love the bar swing chairs - what a clever idea.

  12. Riding the train to Silverton and back is one of our favorite all time family memories. Our kids just loved it and we did too. Lovely photos!


I appreciate and enjoy your comments