Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Durango to Silverton Rail Trip

It does seem a bit ironic that the day after our son Dan went with his EPA team to the White House to present the Clean Power Act, John and I boarded a coal-powered locomotive.  I just could not help thinking about air pollution when I saw the engine of our train spew out black smoke into the pristine mountain air!
Three trains leave daily for the 3 and 1/2 hour trip from Durango to Silverton.  Each train chugs slowly up at about 14 miles per hour.  John reassured me that the soot which comes from the train and flies over the mountainside and on us is nothing compared to the amount of CO2 discharged into the air by coal-fired power plants.  It was a good trip and we did see a lot of spectacular scenery.
Surrounding the town of Durango are large red sandstone cliffs.  After our train left the city this was one of the first of many picturesque sights which we saw from the train.
Pictured below the cliffs is the Animus Valley.  Elk herds are seen here during the winter months.  The railroad follows the Animus River up to Silverton.  We often got glimpses of the rushing stream from our train window.  In the boulder- strewn waters the river tumbles and twirls on its downward path.  Some of the large rocks have been well scoured and polished from the constant rushing waters.
Another fantastic part of the journey were the forests of aspen, birch and poplar.  In this region the pine beetle have taken a lot of the conifers, as well as forest fires.  Aspen groves share a single root system and are considered the largest and oldest organism on earth.  Aspen stands are usually moist and resist burning.
What also was so wonderful about this rail trip was the times when we were able to look down about 400 feet above the Animus River or thousands of feet up at the San Juan Mountains.  In my next posting I will have the sights of  Silverton and Durango.

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