The train ride was well worth the time and cost. Everything about this railway is done right. It’s owners are running it as a labor of love with no expense spared and great staff from the ticket agent to the attendant, Ellie, and the considerable crew it takes to run the train. Ellie is a geologist that spent many years in Alaska before moving to Durango and becoming one of the senior attendants. Her talks about the geology of the area were like going back to first year engineering. In Canada because mining was so important to the economy, all engineers had to take one course in geology. It’s one of the few courses I remember much of what was taught. The railway was built in 11 months and opened in 1882 to take the silver and gold out of the mines in Silverton. It has operated continuously ever since. There are businesses along the route that can only be reached by the railroad. One is a hydroelectric power station and the other the Tall Timbers Resort. The route runs alongside the Animas River with spectacular views of the river from high up in a canyon. We returned on the bus which takes a different route. The driver spoke interestingly and continuously all the way back. We learned a lot about aspen trees which are the first to grow back after a forest fire. They grow in clusters with connected roots. For many years one Colorado aspen grove was the largest living organism on earth. Recently a French mushroom has claimed the honor. Tomorrow we visit Mesa Verde.
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