Narrow Gauge Railroads

We’ve all been to wonderful places that bring memories flooding back to us. Places of awesome beauty, like the Canadian Rockies. Places of great excitement like the Grand Ole Opry. Even a quiet spot under a tree at Grandma’s house. Here’s one of the places I remember from my own past.

Today’s post doesn’t require much in the way of memory. I want to talk about a vacation my wife Sharon and I just enjoyed.

For years we’ve heard people talk about the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge RR. We’ve been up and down the highway between Durango and Silverton (Colorado) many times but had never taken the time to ride the train. More recently we began to hear about another train that runs from Chama, NM, to Antonito, CO—the Cumbres & Toltec.

Both of these trains run on narrow gauge rails (3’ apart instead of 4’8½” with normal gauge) originally laid as a part of the Denver & Rio Grande RR. They both use old steam engines and 1880-era cars to run through scenic mountainous terrain.


Sharon & me in front of D&SNGRR engine

We stayed in Chama for the Cumbres & Toltec. We erred by opting to ride to Osier, CO—the mid-point where they serve lunch—and then riding the other train back to Chama instead of riding all the way to Antonito and taking a bus back to Chama. We’ve been told by several people that the best scenery was between Osier and Antonito.

It was still a very worthwhile ride in comfortable chairs with wonderful views out the windows. We lucked into a wonderful little motel in Chama, the Cumbres Suites ( For a very reasonable price, we had a LARGE room with a nice easy chair, a love seat and a small table with two chairs where we could have eaten if we wanted to bring food in. The bathroom was also plenty large, with a huge sunken tub and shower.


In Durango we weren’t so fortunate. We made the mistake of staying at the Days End—thinking it was a Days Inn. Our room was a postage stamp, and we couldn’t even get ice without paying extra for it.

The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge RR operates an interesting museum you can browse in while you wait for train time. You can climb up into an old steam engine, see a miniature train designed to resemble the D&SNGRR, and see many other artifacts of railroad history.

Much of the trip follows beside the beautiful, fast-flowing Animas River. The most spectacular views on the trip were out the right windows going up and the left coming back down, where the river flowed through deep canyons.


In a bit of comic relief, as we approached Durango on the return, we reached a point where a number of people were tubing, kayaking or rafting down the river. When the train passed them, several different people turned their backs and mooned us. Why is the camera always in the wrong place when you need it?

If you have a chance to ride either of these trains, stretch your trip and ride both. They’re well worth it.

Ø What are some of the places you remember from childhood—or maybe from last year?

Ø Think about what those places mean to you.

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About David N. Walker

David N. Walker is a Christian husband, father and grandfather, a grounded pilot and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years in the health insurance industry, during which time he traveled much of the United States. He started writing about 20 years ago and has been a member and leader in several writers' groups. Christianity 101: The Simplified Christian Life, the devotional Heaven Sent and the novella series, Fancy, are now available in paperback and in Kindle and Nook formats, as well as through Smashwords and Kobo. See information about both of these by clicking "Books" above.
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5 Responses to Narrow Gauge Railroads

  1. great site says:

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  2. Marji Laine says:

    Oh my family spent a week in Durango for at least three summers in a row and we took that trip every year. Such memories your pics bring back! Thanks for sharing!


  3. Barb Estinson says:

    It sounds like a fun, interesting, and scenic vacation. Thanks for the description and pictures!



  4. I love the view of the water! The only train I’ve been on is in Nashville when we took our son to ride Thomas the Train! It was fun.


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