Colorado Trip – Day 3 – Train – Durango to Silverton

Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad & Museum

Sunday, July 20th – we come to the event the whole rest of the trip was planned around.

Before arriving to board the train, we decided a full breakfast was in order – since we left the hotel before the included breakfast was served, we ended up at Denny’s.  Not very original, but the other local restaurants I had found during research weren’t open yet.

Here’s the view from the Denny’s in Durango parking lot.

From the Durango Denny's parking lot
From the Durango Denny’s parking lot

We arrived at the depot in good time, tummies full enough to carry us until lunchtime in Silverton.  I wandered around the depot buildings & yard- disappointed to find that I had crammed our itinerary too full of already-paid-for-tours the next day to take advantage of the Railroad Yard/Museum tour offered every morning and afternoon – a tour which could have answered all the questions I had that wouldn’t be left unanswered for long if my Grandpa Denney or Dad were around – –

This portion of the trip a rather bittersweet one for both Mom and I – – her dad worked in many a rail yard/depot over his long working career (remind me sometime to tell you about the motorcycle, the spider, the battery stack the size of a bed box spring set…) and Dad, who knew enough about so many things that rarely did we ever travel anywhere and need to purchase a tour guide’s services or a guide book to answer our questions.

And so, we “All AaaaBoardddd” ed with excitement  for the journey ahead and a touch of mourning over those who would not be making the trip with us….


As this was a trip of a lifetime and since I picked up some website work before we left, we splurged and did the Historic Narrative car for the train trip – On our way up, our tour guide was Ann Eliza Pinkerton, who, with her husband Judge Harvey Pinkerton and their children, homesteaded in the Animas Valley in 1875. They sold beef, potatoes, butter and other food supplies to the miners up in Silverton.   Her role was played by her real-life descendent who works for the local museum and heritage society.

Anna Eliza Pinkerton - Homesteader - 1875
Anna Eliza Pinkerton – Homesteader – 1875

As we left the station, and worked our way through Durango, Anna Eliza filled us in on the history of Durango and the local area.  We learned about the mining, railroad, both then and now, as well as interesting tidbits such as:

Did you know the scene from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid, where they jump off the cliff, was filmed just north of Durango?   The actual drop isn’t the same as the one portrayed in the movie – the long cliff-face fall was cut-in from shots at a location in California – though the jump off and river entrance were shot locally –  still, every year, some high school senior tries to make the much less dramatic  jump, even though local laws made it illegal to do so quite a few years ago.

The videos/guide books available for sale were so reasonably priced, I purchased both and declined to take notes or try to remember everything – instead, I sat back, enjoyed the view while Anna’s knowledgeable and gentle voice carried me away to a different time and place – I did manage to return to the present to snap some pictures here and there – mostly of the Animas River, which we rarely lost sight of during the journey:








At Horseshoe Bend, I was able to take a picture of the front of the train, from the window of the car we rode in near the back:



And pretty side views along the way:




Next post – our layover in Silverton….