Friends have a sign in their kitchen that reads “A bad day in mountains is still a good day.” It came to mind in Durango, Colorado. Alie was ill and could not go with me on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Her ticket was non-refundable. It was overcast all day with rain off and on. I was sitting in a open-sided rail car with occasional soot from the locomotive blowing into my eyes. It was still a good day.
The Denver and Rio Grande Railroad founded Durango in 1879 and completed a line to the 1874 mining town of Silverton in 1882. The narrow gauge railway began hauling passengers and freight and has been in continuous operation for 137 years. Today, tourists keep the railroad alive as they ride along the side of the narrow Animas River canyon pulled by a coal-burning locomotive.
It may have been a questionable decision on a cool day with rain showers, but I chose an open air car because the seats face out, and there are no obstructions to the views. My companions in the adjoining seats were a pleasant young couple and their children who grew up in a nearby town but were now living in Texas.
In 2009, I had a great bowl of soup and piece of pie at Silverton’s Brown Bear Restaurant. Both the soup and pie were still wonderful, and my waitress had the same name as Alie and had lived for many years in our Florida hometown.
I recommended the Brown Bear to the Texas couple. They seemed to like it. Seeing me there, they introduced me to his parents who were picking them up in Silverton.
As fewer people made the round-trip, the conductor had plenty of time for conversation on the way back to Durango. So did two men from Fort Lewis College who had been fishing in the mountains. They shared a wealth of information about the area.
It was a good day.
Click on photos to enlarge.
Date of my visit: 1 October 2018