South from headwaters
high in the San Juan,
flows the Rio de Las Animas de Perdidas -
the River of Lost Souls.

Tumbling through its deep canyon
mountain walls rising high on each side.
Home to elk and bear,
the shrill whistle of marmot.

Winter’s deep snows
running the avalanche chutes.
Summer’s water falls cascading
from the cloud-touched peaks.

Peaks that hide the San Juan's
silver and gold.
Vast fortunes that a century ago,
lured all to come seek.

Historic home of the Ute,
by 1874 the white man was king.
Mining these vast riches,
taking out “silver by the ton.”

Then through this deep canyon
from Durango to the south,
in 1882 arrived the Denver & Rio Grande,
in the bustling new town of Silverton.

Part of the narrow gauge circle
connected via stage to Ouray, thousands
marveled the Canyon’s wild beauty
as they made the circle tour.

Today as in old Chama,
against the morning sun’s rise,
old Durango still is witness
to the smoke of steam trains.

Locomotives easing out of the roundhouse,
and onto the turntable.
Making ready for the morning’s run
through the canyon of the Animas.

Contrasts of old and modern
1880’s depot and 1980’s McDonald's!
Columns of grey-black smoke
and smell of french fries.

Then blasting out of town,
whistles wailing at crossings.
Following the Animas north
toward Silverton.

Through Rockwood and into the canyon,
flanges squealing
along the High Line,
stopping for water at old Needleton.

Then sprint through Elk Park
`neath the San Juan's
towering peaks.
And on to old Silverton.

These mountain walls still hide riches,
still echo back shrill whistles.
And flanges still squeal
along the wild rushing Animas!


1882 Durango roundhouse.



1875 4-4-0 Eureka & Palisades #4.


Rockwood cut.

Stub switch on Rockwood wye.


High Line.

Needleton tank.

Site of a snow shed.

Out of the canyon into Silverton.


Silverton wye.

Bumblebee paint scheme.

Back to Top

The Modern Narrow Gauge Circle: Its Heritage     Coal Smoke Over the Conejos
Whistles Over Clear Creek     The Mystery of Jukes Tree

Back to Index Page