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DURANGO AND SILVERTON RAILROAD
“Think you used enough dynamite, there Butch?” The line was delivered by Robert Redford to Paul Newman after blowing up a mail coach car of Mr. E. H. Harriman’s Union Pacific Railroad in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”, but the railroad train in the movie was actually the Durango and Silverton which runs through Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, originally a branch of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad. Originally built to carry gold and silver ore the line from Durango to Silverton was completed in 1882. And even since it’s beginning the line was promoted for its scenic gold as well as the precious metal.
When the gold and silver ran out, the line remained for passenger travel and has been a Colorado tourist attraction since the turn of the last century. The railroad became a pure passenger line in the 1950’s and today the train carries 200,000 passengers every year on its winding path following the Animas River through tree covered slopes and grassy plains and has been a popular prop for movies since the golden age of Hollywood.
The current operating steam locomotive was built in 1923 and serves almost daily duty. The cars in use date back to the earliest days of the railroad and there are rail and mining history museums at both ends of the track in Silverton and Durango. The train ride beginning in Durango to Silverton and back takes 3 ½ hours, with about a 2 hour stopover in Silverton before making the return journey, traveling at an average speed of about 18 miles an hour. Spend time visiting the old west town of Silverton, and the Silverton Freight Yard Museum in located at the Silverton depot. Admission is included in the train ride fare. The Durango & Silverton Narrow Guage Railroan Museum in Durango at the south end of the roundhouse. Admission is good for two days prior to or two days following the train ride.
The train’s coaches are enclosed while Gondolas have open sides and all seating is pre-assigned, though you can walk through the train cars while on the track and there is a consession car in the center of the train for snacks. Prices for the trip range from $45 to $75 for adults depending on season and route package, up to $149 for the Presidential Class Parlor Car. You can choose between train both ways or steam train ride one way and bus ride the other for a faster return at a smal addition cost, except for the premium packages.
For movie buffs, the train has been used in a number of familiar western films since 1949. Colorado Territory (1949), Ticket to Tomahawk (1950), Denver & Rio Grande (1952), Viva Zapata (1952), Three Young Texans (1954), Around the World in 80 Days (1956), Night Passage (1957), How the West Was Won (1963), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), Support Your Local Gunfighter (1970), The Tracker (1987), The Claim (2000), and The Prestige (2006). © Bargain Travel West
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