Durango to Silverton

The train ride from Durango to Silverton lived up to its billing. John talked of this railroad for 50 years, and I saw pictures and videos of the train. He was concerned that he hadn’t bought tickets in the special car with all the amenities, but he needn’t have worried. The car was not full, so we spread out. The ride was long – 3.5 hours each way – but there was always something to look at.

The mountains were impressive, as was the rushing stream all along the route. That stream becomes the Animas River running through Durango. The peaks here were more rugged than ours. (What possessiveness!) Still, the Rockies had something special – snow covered peaks!

Durango is a large train/college town on a small river. Silverton, though, is very small and walkable. The railroad laid out the broad streets, which appear to be dirt. If there is an underlying support, it wasn’t visible. After the mining failed, tourism became its main business. It’s amazing that the town sits in a flat valley at 14,000 feet. John pointed out that the mountains rise steeply only three or four blocks from the center of town.

There were two amusing sights that I photographed. One was a public restroom where the two stalls in the ladies’ room had curtains instead of doors. The other was a bench made of skis.

We almost missed the aspen display. Occasionally we’d see a stand of bright yellow leafed trees, but most of them had lost their leaves. The shrub I loved may be a willow. There was a naturalist on board who looked at my photo and said it was a willow of some sort. A tree identification app suggested Bebb’s willow. The shrub had lost its leaves, but the branches were silvery blue, especially in sunlight.

Bebbs Willow??
Bebbs Willow??

We chatted with two other people, one from California and one from Arkansas. In general conversation, it was soon evident that John knew tons more than the other two men. They began asking questions and getting deeper into train lore. It makes a wife proud to see strangers admire her husband’s knowledge.

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