Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Drive To Silverton, CO

June 4, 2016

We took the Durango-Silverton railroad ride a number of years ago and only made it halfway to Silverton since the tracks were still under snow. 

A decision was made at that time to finish the ride to Silverton, but this time we drove up there in the car.

We zoomed on through Durango in heavy traffic since it was a beautiful day and the streets were crowded there.  Also, it was a long drive, so we didn't stop in Durango.  We did drive along the railroad tracks for a long distance before they headed up the side of the mountain and we went lower.

On the way up RT 550 we came upon these hot springs.  I thought it was unusual for a hot spring to be this close to a road, but didn't think much more about it.  There is a story written about the hot spring written in the Durango newspaper.  See the following url for the story.     Hot Springs

Pinkerton Hot Spring

Pinkerton Hot Spring

The drive up to Silverton was one nice view after another.  We crossed over two mountain passes that were over 10,500 ft.  There were a number of very steep grades with switchbacks and dropoffs.  Just the kind of road I love driving on in a car.  Now driving the motorhome up there would be another story.  Maybe another time.

Finally, Silverton came into view down in a valley.  It is the county seat for San Juan County, Colorado and the largest town in the county.  Yep, 600 people more or less and it's the biggest town in the county.  The other 100 or so people live out of town in small pockets. 

We came across this small church and saw that they had a 5:00 pm mass and Gerry talked me into attending it with her.  The church held about 140 people and there were 30 or so people in attendance.

 The gold and silver mines in the area produced riches from 1874 until they closed in 1953.  There were some boom and bust times over the years however tourism is the main industry now.

To help the miners relax there were 32 bordellos in the town.  Most of the miners were single and young and they headed for them on their free time.

Shady Lady Saloon & bordello

Bent Elbow bordello

 The Grand Imperial Hotel opened in 1883, the year after the railroad came to Silverton.  All told, it is a 32,000 square ft building on 4 levels.  It was recently restored by the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.

 Kendall Mountain tops out at 13,338 ft and is south of Silverton.  I managed to get a nice photo of it while I was enjoying a beer at the Avalanche Brewery.  Keep in mind that Silverton is in a valley at 9,318 ft to get an idea how high this mountain really is.  Breath taking!

There is an abandoned mine west of Silverton that looks like it could be put back into service easily.  Of course, the mine probably is a shambles inside.

 The building below has a checkered past, but is now a photo gallery.  It looks like it is over one hundred years old but has been recycled into a useful place now.

 The Bordello outlined below refers to the photo shop above.

 There are a number of mountains that are over 12,000 ft high in this area.  The snow was still quite deep on this particular mountain.

 This campground is about 10,000 ft high without any hookups just in case anyone is interested in camping there.  The lake is stocked with trout each year and the fishing is great.

There was a geocache in the "Old Town Square" and it was a quite interesting place with old time tools hanging on the walls and lots of mine equipment.

We saw a number of waterfalls on the way home from Silverton.  The snow melt was quite heavy in the area and the river was running high.  

We finally had to leave Silverton and wished we had more time to check it out.  I wasn't looking forward to making the drive in the dark so we started our trek back to the motorhome.  It didn't take as long to get back since we weren't taking photos all the time.  We did stop to get some shots of elk alongside of the road.  They were a distance off the road and due to low light we couldn't get the photos we wanted.

It was dark the last few miles and we had to keep an eye out for deer as we got closer to Bloomfield, NM.  We thoroughly enjoyed the drive up there and exploring Silverton.  If you are ever in the area, make sure you take the time to make the drive.  It is worth it.

That was our day, how was yours?

1 comment:

  1. We took that train several years ago. I would suggest to anyone going to take the train is to ride it one way and take the bus back. That is gorgeous country for sure! Lovely photos.