You've probably already guessed, if you didn't know before, that Mike is a real train nut. So when I saw the sign at the Durango & Silverton ticket counter which said behind the scenes tours of the train yard were available, I knew we had to do it!|
The tour starts at 10 o'clock, after all the trains for the day have set out for Silverton, reducing the chance of an Unfortunate Accident. Here are some cars which weren't used on this day, waiting their turn tomorrow.
The yard guide showed us how the switch worked, and let Mike actually try it. I think he would have cheerfully stood there switching all day, if that wouldn't have meant missing the rest of the tour!
The machine that loads sand into the sand dome on the engines. There are presurized hoses leading down from there that will let the engineer put a little sand in front of his wheels when he needs more traction.
Inside one of the work rooms they have saved a panel from an old railroad car, probably one of the many which were sold or destroyed when their rail companies went out of business.
The annual celebration called Railfest was coming up soon, and one of the engines was getting a vintage paint job, to match those from the 50s. This is the coal tender in the "bumblebee" style.
The turntable, which lets them reverse the engines easily. Our guide says that if need be, a couple of guys pushing can turn it by hand!
Our tour group. Mike is contemplating the pit of the turntable. The guide is the one in the blue shirt with a big ol' railroader's handkerchief in his back pocket.
Here's the roundhouse, with the engines not needed for the day resting in their spots. They looked to me like big ol' dogs in dog houses.
Part of the junkyard area, with engines and cars being kept for parts.
This is an old mail car which is under restoration. Judging from their other work, it will look as good as new one of these days!
An old red engine, diesel I think, which is part of their museum.
Number 486, our engine from yesterday. The engines get checked over after each trip, washed and fitted up for the next day.
They have a really big model train layout inside the museum, a bequest from an old model train fan. Mike probably would have wanted to stay here all day too, if the little trains had been running.
A statue outside in the yard. Nothing to do with trains, but it was so neat. Mike insisted we needed a pic for his niece Morrissey the horse lover.
After the tour, we tried to find a laundromat in Durango, but my bad searching luck was still in, so we just kept on driving. Silverton had one right on the main road in to town, though.
By the time this much needed chore was done, a thunderstorm was threatening, so I decided to end the day early. We found a neat RV park with a hot tub and just relaxed the rest of the day. This pic isn't too good, but it shows the tiny waterfall that was on the mountain directly in front of the space we rented.
The next morning we took one last drive before leaving. Here's something that caused us much envy -- a house made of two old cabooses!
In the Shadow of the Past
With that image, we say goodbye to Silverton. Next page will have us pointing home, with stops in Ouray and the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.