Overnight at the historic Strater Hotel and then the steam train to Silverton
16.09.2007 - 16.09.2007 -17 °C
We arrived in Durango around 5pm and checked into the historic Strater Hotel .. family owned and in immaculate condition. Dinner in the Belle Diamond Saloon and a walk around town and an early night as we were scheduled to catch an early train.
I overslept which made for a hectic departure, but we got out tickets and found our seats for the 2 hour + journey by steam train to the old mining town of Silverton. I was pleased that I had opted for a closed carriage (there are open carriages called gondolas which are good for sightseeing and taking photographs, but exposed other elements). The Durango and Silverton Railway website emphasised the classic steam train, restored carriages, etc. I expected that to be the main feature of this trip but it was the incredible landscape and the thrill of a railway cutting through a canyon and the thrilling views down to the river crashing down from the mountains above.
The line goes up 2000 feet to Silverton and the train stops at least twice to take on water. It was exhilarating ; especially when we saw the massive Needle Mountains in the distance. During the last half hour of the journey rain put a damper on the whole thing, The people in the open gondola behind us looked miserable ; rain was blowing all around.
Silverton is like a movie set but with frequent showers, we were simply keen to find a place for lunch. Larry showed ingenuity by asking a shop owner where the best burger in town was served and we got there to find lots of locals and few people off the train. We had a good lunch and did a bit a window shopping in antique stores and visited the old jail before rejoining the train.
On our return journey we were traveling First Class in a Victorian carriage with small tables are chairs which we could move from side to side to catch the best views. The attendant (a local woman) gave a commentary on the train and the scenery and served up drinks during the journey. Some people took a coach back to Durango assuming that a return journey on the same line would be redundant, but we really enjoyed the return journey because there were some new views and we could savour those spots we’d enjoyed on the trip up. The rain continued and a mudslide as we got close to Durango meant that we had to stop and going a walking pace for a few hundred yards. Near Durango A small fire high in the forest (said to be started by lightening) showed that a fire in this part of the country is a very serious matter .. the fire was in a tree which was not easily accessible.