Historic Narration San Juan Coach
May 6 - October 28, 2017
Ride in style as you learn interesting facts about the scenery and the historical significance of the area we travel through. Learn what it took to build the line and what it takes to keep it going.
Travel in comfort aboard a reconfigured version of the famous “San Juan.” This distinctive closed-vestibuled coach built in 1887 features roomy, reversible, overstuffed seating in a wide three-across arrangement. Passengers receive a complimentary souvenir mug to fill in the concession car.
Depending on who is narrating on the day of your ride, you may hear from any TWO of the following characters from history:
Cora Mears Pitcher was the daughter of Otto Mears and the last president of the Silverton Northern Railroad! She grew up as her father built roads and railroads to support the lucrative mining in southwestern Colorado. She will share her father's "rags to riches" story and talk about the many railroads that once ran in the San Juan Mountains.
Otto Mears was a famous Colorado railroad builder and entrepreneur who played a major role in the early development of southwestern Colorado. Mears was known as the "Pathfinder of the San Juans" because of his road and railroad building projects through Colorado's San Juan Mountains in the late 19th Century. He built hundreds of miles of toll roads in the rough terrain of the young state of Colorado, notably the Million Dollar Highway over Red Mountain Pass, connecting Silverton to Ouray.
Ann Eliza Pinkerton, with her husband Judge James Harvey Pinkerton and their children, homesteaded in the Animas Valley in 1875. They sold beef, potatoes, butter and other food supplies to the miners up in Silverton. Learn about ranch life in the area and some of the cowboy stories that really happened in the early days of "wild" Durango!
Gen. William Jackson Palmer: An American civil engineer, soldier, industrialist and philanthropist. He was a general in the Civil War and Medal of Honor recipient. The 45-mile line between Durango and Silverton was constructed in 1881-82 by the Denver & Rio Grande Railway headed by General William Jackson Palmer. Hear more about this man, considered both a visionary and a pragmatic businessman.
Victoria Day was the wife of noted, (or notorious, depending on which side of the pencil you fell on) newspaper editor, David Day. She was a business woman in her own right, an early woman entrepreneur, something quite unusual for a 19th century lady.
Lena Stoiber was quite a character! With her second husband Ed, she co-owned the Silver Lake Mine and later the Mayflower Mine above Silverton. She rode a special bicycle which ran on the RR tracks. It was built for her by Otto Mears. She had FOUR husbands, one of whom was supposedly aboard the Titanic.
Thomas C. Graden was born in Ohio in 1846 and came west to Colorado in 1874. In 1879 he won a contract to supply ties and timber to the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad for construction of the new San Juan extension from Alamosa to Durango and on to Silverton! An entrepreneur all his life, he also incorporated the first electric company in Durango, operated the Graden Flour Mill, Graden Mercantile Company and numberous sawmills. Hear the story on why he remained a single man.
Caroline Romney was a pretty, 40-year old, New York-born widow when she decided to haul her printing press across the mountains from Leadville, CO to start Durango’s first newspaper The Durango Record in December 1880. Caroline was known to dash about the streets gathering news then rushing back to the office to write news, advertisements and editorials in prose that reflected her brains and wit. Besides the normal news and social events Caroline Romney confronted such issues as social justice, Indian affairs, women’s rights and law and order, even taking on the infamous Stockton-Eskridge gang in print. One of her reoccurring themes was encouraging girls to come to Durango to “civilize their pioneer brothers”. Mrs. Romney was the embodiment of the successful frontier woman . . . she had a nose for news, a head for business and a witty tongue. She continued her career as a newsperson in many areas of the country seeming to always return to Colorado. She also became a successful inventor of such items as foot warmers for railroad cars. She died in Denver in 1916.
Robert Dwyer (1847 ~ 1920) An Animas Valley pioneer, miner, rancher, La Plata County Sheriff and first Marshall of Durango. He left an indelible mark on the community he helped develop. Born in County Cork, Ireland, Dwyer eventually made his way via Bakers Park to establish an Animas Valley homestead in 1873. It was through “Bob” Dwyer’s leadership that brought together a diverse community of railroad developers, miners, ranchers and Ute Indians residing in the valley.
Schedule & Fare:
May 6 through October 28:
Train Round Trip (Different narrator each direction)
Adult (age 12+): $119.00*
Depart Durango 8:45am ~ Arrive Silverton 12:15pm
Depart Silverton 2:30pm ~ Arrive Durango 6:00pm
Skyway Tour (Bus/Train)
Adult (age 12+): $139.00*
Depart on any available morning bus
Depart on Silverton train 2:30pm ~ Arrive Durango 6:00pm
Skyway Tour (Train/Bus)
Adult (age 12+): $139.00*
Depart on Durango train 8:45am ~ Arrive Silverton 12:15pm
Depart on any available afternoon bus
*subject to 7% Historic Preservation Fee
NOTE: The Historical Narration Journey is designed as a round trip experience on board the train. Please be aware that if you choose to go one way or utilize the one-way bus option, you will be missing one portion of the historic narration and no refund will be given.
Since the Historical Narration Journey involves narrative, we encourage our passengers to be willing and able to give attention to the speaker in order that all passengers may enjoy the full experience! Thank you!
Are you ready to book YOUR seats on the San Juan?
Or call to speak with one of our friendly reservation agents at 877-872-4607.
The narrators will relate their tales to you in first-person storytelling, dressed in period clothing to match their character. They will take on the persona of an actual person involved in the settling of the West and portray through their eyes what life was like in the old days in the Durango and Silverton area. They will enlighten you through narrative and tales of what it took to build the railroad and what it takes to keep it going as well as facts about the scenery and the historical significance of the area we travel through!
This will NOT be non-stop commentary but will allow for interaction and passengers are encouraged to ask questions! On the return trip, you will have a new character in your car to provide another angle of the history of the old west.
Comments from passengers on the Historic Narration Coach:
"Had a great ride today! The narrated carriage is definitely a must! You'll learn so much about the area and really get a better understanding of what you're seeing! Highly recommended!"
"I loved the ride in general, but I would not have known as much or appreciated as much without the history that was explained thanks to the narrators."