A highlight of the recent vacation trip was the three-hour train ride from Durango to Silverton. Silverton is an old mining town up in the mountains. Silverton has long been abandoned as a mining town and now looks more like a set for a western movie. It is nothing but gift shops and restaurants and of course the main attraction, the train station.
The train is a narrow gauge, which means the tracks are 3 feet apart rather than 4. This makes it easier for the train to negotiate the sharper curves in the narrow mountainous terrain. The rails cost less and construction of the line is much more rapid than for conventional railroads.
The railroad follows the Animas River as it winds its way through narrow mountain ravines. The river rushes over a riverbed made up of huge boulders. It would be a rough ride on a raft. The scenery, as you peer down from the side of the mountain into the deep gorge containing the river, is breathtaking. The way is lined with beautiful spruce and aspen trees. The train passes through giant rock formations and the sites of many previous rock and snow slides. The course of the line has been the backdrop for several movies.
There is sure nothing like the experience and the scenery of that train ride to be found in Bell County. The only distraction was the large number of tourist, which made the whole affair a little like a ride at Disney World. I realize that the entire operation exists because of tourist but that sure does dampened the effect. No matter how hard I tried to pretend I was back in the 1800’s on my way to do a little mining and to encounter a few desperados, it didn’t work.
My imagination works a lot better on the porch at Salado and the view I have through the oak trees isn’t bad. Also, at the end of the trip I am not covered in soot from the steam engine. I have been to many great places on that porch and I could write some exciting movie scripts to match.