Winter’s Cut

The sound was low, distant, and just on the threshold of hearing. The faint “chug-chug,” seemed to be growing louder, but sounds echo in funny ways in the canyons of Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. The cold, biting wind of the winter’s day stole everyone’s breath, making it all that much harder to concentrate.

After a moment, though, the distinctive whistle of the steam locomotive dispelled all doubt. The low sound was indeed a train, and it was certainly heading this way.

Just like that Engine #486 came barreling out of “The Cut”, the name given to this narrow passage through the rock, thick black smoke steaming out behind it as it labored up the hill. The whistle sounded again, amazingly loud this time, and there is nothing in the world quite like staring down an oncoming train. It could have easily been the late 1800’s all over again, as timeless as the sight was.

The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad still plies this line, running much as it has more than one hundred years. It provides an extraordinary opportunity to step back in time, and experience the thrill of the nightly steam engines.

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