Durango/Silverton trip

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by ezdays, Jul 24, 2007.

  1. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    I know many of you have taken this trip. TrainNut was up there a few weeks ago with his family and couldn't say enough good things about it. I'm thinking of going up there with my wife sometime in August, and I need some feedback. Like for instance, any suggestions on where to stay, or where to eat while up there? How about the class of travel, I see fares range from $65 up to $149, is upgrading worth it? We were thinking about upgrading to "Premium class" since we won't have any kids with us. Beyond that, it seems a bit pricey. Some of the hotels have a package deal, has anyone used one of those that they'd recommend? TrainNut mentioned that there was a hotel right across the street from the station, I'll look into that one too...

    Any help would be appreciated, including side trips.
  2. woodone

    woodone Member

    Hi Don:
    Well all I can say is it is one of the best railroad trips that I have ever taken ( so good I went back for a second trip). I have been on the Grand Canyon trip, Verde River rail trip, and the Geroge Town Loop.
    All were good! Hands down the Durango is best. IMO :thumb:.
    We stayed at a small motel ( hotel) that was about five miles north of the town of Durango. Are room was facing East looking down on the tracks of the railroad. And we were close, you could walk right down onto the tracks. Got to see the outgoing and returns of all the trains. Got some good photos. Most were in the AM and late afternoon.
    I don't recall the motels name,:confused: my wife might. If you want I can check with her and let you know.
    You better make some reservations as soon if you can.
  3. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    In the package deal I bought, the motel was within "crutching" distance of the station, and there was a restaurant right next door. I was only looking for a place to sleep, the important thing was the ride to Silverton and back. Where they wouldn't let me ride the cab, I chose the parlor car( the slightly more expensive ticket) which worked out well, when you factor in the freshly broken ankle, and the crutches. :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
    I would recommend a package deal for the ride, and hotel. Book your trip as soon as you can, it is a popular "destination".
  4. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    Does this mean I've got to go out and break an ankle too, or can I just kinda limp a bit and pretend??:twisted: :twisted: :twisted: :twisted:

    Seriously, I'm thinking about one of those package deals, I guess I've got to make a few phone calls, they don't give hotel rates for there on their web sites. I guess that way they can change them to suite their mood for that day. :p :p Do you remember the name of the motel you stayed in?
  5. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    Does the parlor car have AC? We rode in coach and the sun was a killer on the way back after a long day.
  6. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    Good point, we took the parlor car on the Verde Valley train and it was comfortable the whole trip. We took the coach up to the Grand Canyon, and as I recall, it was a bit sticky...

    I'm going to call them and ask, once I decide on a date.
  7. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    I've ridden a number of tourist lines...including all 3 of the colorado narrow gauges...so I have a few comments...

    If you have a chance to ride the Silver Vista...it might be a good idea...gondolas are nice too! I recommend googling the Silver Vista as its a new replica of a '40s-'50s excursion car of the same name that was destroyed in a fire. It should be really cool. The best cars are near the rear of the train...so that you can get pictures of the engine while going around curves...
    Most of their other cars are authentic D&RG 19th century cars...I believe most are Jackson & Sharpp cars.

    If you can take a round house tour, they've got some goodies tucked away like a 2-8-0. There's also a 2-8-0 in the city park. All of the power that is used is either a K-28 or a K-36...2-8-2s.

    A non-rail fan would probably prefer the D&S to the Cumbras & Toltec...but, a railfan might enjoy the C&T a bit more...and it's west end, Chama, is only around 2 hours from Durango. The scenery is spectacular, although not quite as good as the D&S, and the towns at each end of the line aren't on par. What really makes the C&T so cool is that when they ended their regular operations in the late 60s...they moved a ton of the freight equipment...and MoW to Chama. They have K-27, K-36, and K-37 mikados...but no 2-8-0s. They have a yards full of freight cars...although a shortage of "real" passenger cars (their coaches used to be flat cars). The still use one of their TWO rotary snow plows to open their line in the spring...if needed...and have a variety of other pieces of MoW equipment. Although I haven't been there for a while, they used to pass out self guided tour sheets...while Durango wouldn't let you close to the operation (except on their roundhouse tour which cost $$$). The way the two railroads did things...the D&S is more of a tourist/scenic railway (and the best at that) while the C&T is more of a heritage or preservation railway (complete with hand shoveling of ashes from the ash pit into a drop bottom gondola). The C&T mainline is around 40% longer than the D&S, so they use a bus to return you to your car at the end of the day :-( The D&S was a branchline while the C&T was part of the mainline...the C&T has two big bridges & two tunnels.

    If I recall, the Strater (sp?) Hotel used to be THE hotel in Durango. If you go there, be sure to pay attention when you arrive in Silverton...the Silverton Northern's engine house is on your left as you approach the wye.

    You ought to rent around the world in 80 days if you can...the american west scenes were shot on the Silverton Branch (the D&S) and the desert scenes where on the Chili line (now gone). The motive power was...if I recall...a decorated C-16 consolidation...either the 268 or 278...both survive. The other movie to rent...if possible...would be ticket to tomahawk...which was essentially a journey from Durango to Silverton with a vandalized RGS #20 (which is currently being restored at Strassbourg, PA!)...but that would be a difficult movie to find (from 1949).

    The movie Bite the bullet was filmed on the C&T...but think it was just at the Antonito end (the desert).

    You ought to google "narrow gauge circle"....there's a site with wonderful pictures.

    If I recall correctly, the package details with hotels are generally not the best deal for a railfan...but I might be confusing that with the WP&Y cruise ship packages (which I know aren't as good as separately purchased tickets...they sardine you).

    I may be a DSP&P fan...but in high school I used to read D&RGW books everyday as I ate my cereal...both railroads are absolutely wonderful!
  8. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    In the city park???!!! Where? Durango? Doggonit, I missed that one. Gonna have to find it for next time.
    I can vouch for the fact that Chama is way friendlier towards the rail enthusiast than Durango. The engineers at Durango wouldn't let us up on the engines period, while Chama let us climb up inside the cab while they were stopped for any reason. My father and I were also wandering around the yard late one night and one of the night workers gave us a tour of the machine shed and tool shop and then let us climb up inside one of the engines that was "idling" for the night. He let us sit there as long as we wanted, unsupervised, as long as we didn't touch nothin'! Every so often, he'd come by to check on us, fire up the dynamo and check the gauges, check the fire, add a little this here and a little that there. If you'd have seen us sitting there pretending to be engineer and fireman while making chugging and whistle noises, you'd a probably died laughing!

    Also, Don, smuggle on your own sodas and snacks as they'll charge you a pretty penny and then some for anything from the snack car.
  9. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    I can relate! My father sat his new sweatshirt on the ground at Osier while we were up in the cab, and then forgot it. Fortunately, someone picked it up and the conductor returned it to us. That was under the old operator...it's now run by the Friends group...railfans! The D&S is more cautious, in part due to them being a for profit operation. I also suspect they're more lawyer conscious since they have more traffic.

    The East Broad Top, which is actually even better in terms of a heritage railroad...but a few leagues below for general tourists. They're the only other place I've seen as friendly as the C&T...on railfan weekend.

    Here's a link for the engine in the park...Welcome to the Durango Railroad Historical Society 315 - Home
  10. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    I'm sure something can be arranged, but I did get much more personal service because my foot was propped up in a cast! :mrgreen::mrgreen:
    No, But...I do have the credit card statement from that period of time, so, it was the Durango Lodge, on 8/21/03. By crutchin' distance, I mean, it was about a half block, turn left, and about a block and a half to two blocks to the depot.....distance is hard to measure when you're on crutches.:eek: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
  11. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    Just to give you some reference, 1 is the station, 2 is the hotel that I suggested, and 3 is the location of the Blackstone Soundtraxx facility where I purchased my narrow gauge mudhen. 4 is the location of the Durango Lodge that Sumpter was referring to.[​IMG]
  12. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    the 2-8-0 in the city park:

    DRHS 315 - Home

    Under restoration and should be under steam this fall!

  13. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    Yes, thank you nkp174 and Nachoman for that link. Once I started looking at those pictures, it occured to me that I had seen that engine while I was there but 2/3rds of it was under a tarp with just the tail end of the tender sticking out. CLICK! Now it comes together. Sorry Don, trying my best not to hijack your thread.
  14. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    That sounds exactly like an engine being overhauled!
  15. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    Not to worry, this is all good information so have at it. I've never had a problem with hijacking, and this certainly doesn't qualify as that anyway.

    So many things to see, places to go, stuff to do and so little time to do it. Maybe I'd better think about an extra day or two.
  16. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    Hokey, dokey, I finally got everything finalized. I've got reservations on the Cinco Animas car for Aug. 20th. We couldn't get reservations for Sunday night at the Durango Lodge, so I made them at the Caboose Inn. Someone let me know if that's not a good place to stay. They are not within walking distance of the station, but they said there is a bus that runs down Main Ave. that will take us there in about ten minutes. I don't want to wait any longer because there's "Railfest" later that week, and the following week is "biker's week".... We're not into crowds and parties, so this should work out OK, as long as the motel is all right.
  17. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    Interesting... I can't seem to find the Caboose Inn. Do you have an address?
  18. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    Try this link, it's quite a ways from the station, but not as far as The Iron Horse Inn. And it's the Caboose Motel, not "Inn"....:oops: :oops:
  19. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    Yep. Okay, now I know where it's at. Just right down the street from there, SSW is a Safeway type grocery store and just up from that, NNE is a pretty good restaraunt - Serious Texas BBQ. Both are within walking distance from your hotel. You're also within walking/hearing distance of the tracks as they pass by just a short ways down towards the river.
    1. Your hotel
    2. Serious Texas BBQ
    3. Safeway type store.
    4. Railroad tracks.
  20. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    Hasn't the K-37 been out of use for about 5 years?

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