Yesterday we got up early to take the famous train ride from Durango Colorado to the beautiful mining town of Silverton. We had heard about this train from several people and the week before we arrived in Colorado I came across an article that rated it one of the 10 best train rides in the world. THE WORLD! Our plan was to take the train up (3 1/2 hours) and the bus back (1 1/2 hours). We got tickets for an open car with seats facing out to the view. It was beyond words how beautiful the scenery was. It was an old fashioned train on narrow tracks so it swayed and sounded like a train from a western movie. We could stand and move around in our car and we met some nice people. A woman from Arkansas told me “you won’t find a handful of people in Arkansas who are rude” so I guess we’ll go there someday. It was such a great experience. We traveled along the Animus river and the tracks were sometimes right on the edge of the cliff. The photo of the train was taken from our car as we rounded a bend. When we got to the darling town of Silverton we had time for lunch before the bus was to take us back to Durango.
And then things got a little crazy. Turns out we were just ahead of a forest fire that had started that morning. By the time we got up the mountain it had spread and road down was closed and the trains couldn’t run. The fire was between us and the town of Durango and as of this writing is still burning. So far no injuries but all of us Californians know how awful these fires can be. So 500 of us were stuck in this little mining town that could not accomodate us all. We spent the rest of the day waiting to see what would happen. The people in the town were so nice to us, allowing us to use their phone chargers and handing out free pizzas. It was cold up there as evening wore on and a lot of people had on shorts and sandals. Walter had to buy a sweatshirt (with a Silverton logo). All the stranded people became friends, chatting about where we were from and where we were going, sharing snacks and benches. By 10 at night (which we all know is way past our bedtime) they finally sent busses up to get us back to Durango. We had a caravan of 11 busses that drove us down the mountain to the fire area where the police escorted us through the fire. It wasn’t too dangerous as the winds had died down but there were flames right outside our window. We got back to our hotel at midnight and went straight to bed.
Now I just hope they get the fire under control and that on one loses a life or a home.
The following photos are two views from the train, the town of Silverton and the fire blockade, where we were turned away on our first attempt to get down the mountain.