Colorado Trip – Day 3 – Silverton Layover

We pulled into Silverton as the afternoon storms rolled into the valley – I don’t have as many pictures for you, because I got caught up in the experience and failed to snap pics like I should – –

What I can tell you is – if I ever move again, it will be to Silverton – I fell in love.   With a year round population of 200, it’s my kind of town – I observed two earth homes while touring and want to be buried in the historic and beautiful Hillside Cemetery – but I’m getting ahead of myself….


About a month before this day, I sat in front of my computer, trying to find out what I could about Silverton – I discovered the historic Hillside Cemetery and found out it was a nice little hike from the train depot – uncertain if Mom and I could make the hike, at high altitude, in the time allotted for layover from the train, I tried to find out if there was a taxi or guide service available – an email to Freda, who wrote a book on the cemetery, netted me the link to Mountainside Concierge.

A submitted request at website, reply email and 3 phone calls later, our Angel of Tourist Mercy, Karen, met us at the train depot, with a wonderful lunch of Southwestern Wraps and raspberry tea, to go, from The Pickle Barrel restaurant (which is owned and operated by year-round local folks!)  We climbed into her comfy ride and headed up to Hillside Cemetery, munching along on our fantabulous lunch.

Karen had offered to hike/guide us to her favorites in the cemetery, but alas, rain and lightening kept us to the car –  but here’s what I learned while visiting with Karen while we drove the cemetery loop, up to the Christ of the Mines Shrine (which I had missed the turn-off for yesterday during our trip south to Durango)  and a guided tour of  Silverton:

  • Karen gets a lot of business in the winter time – from tourists who don’t want to drive the mountain roads and from attendees to the Avalanche Training schools held there each year.  Do you know how many levels of Avalanche training there are?  All the way from, “Survive One” to “How to read the layers and prevent one”
  • Summer, not as busy, so if you’re wanting to do more than frequent the gift shops near the depot during your layover, good chance she’ll have an open spot to take care of you!
  • The scar on the mountainside that looks like Bugs Bunny from a distance is where avalanches are triggered/occur
  • Rhubarb abounds in Silverton and if you purchase a home there, you probably don’t need to bring transplants from your old home – it will be there, even growing between the cracks in your sidewalk…
  • There is an active community of organic gardeners, who trade plants and tips for hoop houses/green houses and willingly trade plants with newcomers who lost theirs
  • Their growing season is about a month behind where I live
  • She knows the owners of the earth homes I gleefully saw and when I get back to the area, she’ll introduce me to them
  • There is a Russian princess buried at Hillside Cemetery
  • If you want to be buried in Hillside, you have to be a resident for 20 years or more – maybe 10, if I were to move into the area and contribute enough to be granted a grandfathered clause – 🙂  Challenge Accepted!
  • If you’re willing to hike/travel up, you can go sledding in August at a high mountain lake near Silverton

Here’s a picture of the flora in front of the museum, see the beautiful Rhubarb?

Check out the gorgeous rhubarb, upper center, in July - no less!
Check out the gorgeous rhubarb, upper center, in July – no less!

Click Christ of the Mines shrine to learn about the awesome history of the area and this shrine.


And after a wonderful hour with Karen, we returned to the station to get some fudge from the local shop (we got taster samples of 10 different kinds of fudge – I’m not a fudge person, but they were all delicious!)  A few pics of the train and we departed, with a new figure from history as our tour guide for the trip home, Otto Mears,

” – a famous Colorado railroad builder and entrepreneur who played a major role in the early development of southwestern Colorado. Mears was known as the “Pathfinder of the San Juans” because of his road and railroad building projects through Colorado’s San Juan Mountains in the late 19th Century. He built hundreds of miles of toll roads in the rough terrain of the young state of Colorado, notably the Million Dollar Highway over Red Mountain Pass, connecting Silverton to Ouray.”  – Compliments of the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad site