Climb aboard and learn about the area and the railroad! Be enlightened through historic narrative and tales of what it took to build the railroad and what it takes to keep it going. Also learn interesting facts about the scenery and the historical significance of the area we travel through!
Depending on who is narrating on the day of your ride, you may hear from any of the following characters from history:
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.
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.
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.
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 and 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: 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, considers both a visionary and a pragmatic businessman.
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.
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. The outspoken Romney championed Durango as “the new wonder of the Southwest” and rallied for women’s right to vote. 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.
*subject to 7% Historic Preservation Fee
Ride the steam train 26 miles each way on the 5-hour round trip train ride to the Cascade Canyon wye. This trip takes you through the San Juan National Forest and along the Animas River in the comfort of heated coaches. This wilderness destination is the perfect setting for a fire-side lunch, photo opportunities, or a walk along the Animas River.