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Reliving My Childhood: Visiting Durango, riding the Durango & Silverton Railroad.

Durango and Silverton Railroad

The 8:45 heading north.

Back in the 1980s my Uncle – a great man who has since passed on – arrived in Denver to take me on a trip: We flew from Denver to Durango on an Aspen Airways Convair. In Durango we stayed at the Strater Hotel and, as the main featured activity, rode the Durango and Silverton Railroad – a historic narrow gage railroad.

This trip represents the strongest memories that I have of my Uncle.

A couple years ago I asked my Mom and Dad about it – while both clearly remembered the trip, neither could remember my exact age, nor could they really tell me why my Uncle, a lawyer living in DC, decided to visit us and take me on this trip.

Me and the Train!

Here I am in front of the train.

With these memories floating through my head, I decided to relive this aspect of my childhood. There’s no way to exactly replicate the trip – Stapleton International Airport no longer exists and Aspen Airways has been relegated to the history books as well – but the Strater Hotel still exists and the Durango and Silverton Railroad still runs its trains.

Durango and Silverton Railroad

The Durango and Silverton Railroad heading into the San Juan Forest

So Wednesday I found myself at Denver International Airport boarding a propjet, a Q400, to Durango. My first flight being repeated – I found myself remembering the excitement of my first flight, that first take off, and… uh… I fell asleep this time. I was exhausted.

Durango and Silverton Railroad

The backend of the Durango and Silverton Railroad.

Thursday I was on the train, the 8:45 to Silverton.

There’s not a lot to say about the ride – it’s 3.5 hours up to Silverton, plus another 3.5 hours down, along with 2ish hours in Silverton for lunch and shopping. The scenery is stunning – especially in the fall, with the changing aspen leaves. The valley offers beautiful waterfalls and stunning vistas.

Durango and Silverton Railroad

The train, prepared to head south from Silverton.

It was a great day – I enjoyed it more than I expected.

Wallowing in these memories is a luxury that I am thrilled that I can do – and it’s made me think about childhood – maybe one of the most important things that parents can do is build memories.

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