We’d been planning this day since early Fall 2011. We arrived in Durango on schedule and picked up our tickets for the first train of the season from Durango to Silverton on May 5th. The train runs all year but only halfway to Silverton in the Winter (too much snow). There is a wye at Cascade so the train can turn around. The first train is a really big deal as Silverton depends so heavily on the tourist dollars ever since the decline of mining in the region. Its also a big deal for Durango as it is the largest draw bringing tourists and their lodging and restaurant dollars.
For all these reasons the locals turn out for the first train. The Durango Victorian Aid Society members dress in period costume and tell tales of the historic figures in the early days. Everyone on the train is encouraged to dress-up in Victorian or Western garb. There are so many passengers the D&S adds 2 cars for a total of 12 which requires a second locomotive on the steep grades to Silverton. Double-headed steam is a railfan’s dream! Perfect weather, a fireman friend on the helper, and a boisterous welcome in Silverton made for a great day. What a way to start our second year in Durango.