We arrived in Durango mid-morning and enjoyed a leisurely time strolling around its upmarket shops and relaxed in a great coffee house called Durango Roasters, which we can highly recommend if you ever find yourself in Durango.
We had hoped to take the steam train from here to Silverton but part of the track had been closed due to a lightening strike, so a portion of the train journey was replaced by bus, making the journey (and the price) less attractive.
We decided to drive to Silverton instead, which would take us along the Million Dollar Highway: a particularly scary and precipitous route through sublime mountain scenery. Rachel’s finger nail marks can still be seen in the car’s upholstery from clinging on so tight during the journey and we had to take frequent toilet breaks to avoid any unsightly mishaps.
The further north we travelled, the more beautiful the scenery became: the vivid fall colours just beginning to appear after an unusually cold spell a couple of weeks ago.
We arrived in Silverton in time for lunch in the Brown Bear Cafe, after which we explored the town, which has a truly authentic Wild West feel, with dirt roads, saloons and hotels straight out of the films.
The Durango to Silverton steam train was there when we arrived. Passengers were just returning to the train after a couple of hours spent in town and were ready for the return journey.
A number of people were drawn to the steam engine to take photos or just look on as it was fed shovels of coal for its journey: the great machine puffed out steam as it sighed and groaned slowly but rhythmically. Then came the trumpeting of the train’s whistle as it made ready to leave and the station master waved his flag. It felt like an eternity for the great engine’s wheels to begin turning and the train to heave itself into life. It picked up speed only very slowly and a couple of guys placed quarters on the track in front of the train as it moved out. When the train had left, they picked up their quarters, which were now squashed flat and had taken on the curvature of the track. Rachel sweet-talked one of the men into giving her one of the quarters – a memento to take home after our time in Silverton.