Ferroequinological Photos

on the Durango & Silverton


ferroequinology (fe'-ro-e-kwin-ol'-o-je) n.  gr. ferro iron + equus horse + logos knowledge  1. Study of the Iron Horse. see trainspotting, railfanning.

On this page you'll find photos of a more artistic, eclectic nature.  In other words, this stuff is what doesn't fit into the other, more rigid, categories.  See the Equipment page for roster-style shots. 

How many of us have done this?  You're driving up the valley between Durango and Hermosa, to go to the Bar-D perhaps, when you suddenly notice a plume of smoke up ahead.  Of course you pull over and get out the camera!  This roll-by is from September 7, 1998 (Labor day).

Of course, one must also pace the train... It helps if one's spouse holds the steering wheel during this process, by the way.

There are many places in Durango to catch a roll-by.  This one is a block north of the depot.  The last shot shows the train we had chased in the valley, now turned and waiting to be spotted in the yard for tomorrow's run.


Here's a selection of photos from various places on the line, from 1984 to the present.

  K-28 No. 473, coming and going as it arrives back at the depot with a train in August 1984.
  A pair of high line shots: the first from December 1984 with No. 481 on the point, and the second from September 1985, with K-37 No. 497 doing the honors.
 Here's your webmaster as I appeared in December 1984.  K-36 No. 481 is percolating on the wye track at Cascade Canyon.  This was a very new feature at that time; the Cascade wye was put in shortly before this.  The D&S began running Locals Appreciation trips to Cascade, and we took advantage of it.
  Just north of the highway overpass, No. 481 leads a returning train in August 1998.  It's a pleasant location to watch for trains, and easily accessed by parking just north of the bridge and taking the trail down to the tracks (through the deer fence).
 No. 482 is southbound with a train in this classic valley shot from Labor Day weekend, 2005.
Here it is again, in August 2004, from the opposite side of the tracks at the north edge of Durango.
In Silverton, September 1985, K-37 No. 497 is preparing to turn our train for the return to Durango.  This locomotive ultimately proved to be too long and heavy for the D&S line, and was traded in 1991 to the C&TSRR in exchange for K-36 No. 482.
The D&S puts on a "Santa Special" every December-- a locomotive and caboose come in from the north, carrying the Jolly Olde Elf himself, to the delight of the kids.  These shots are from December 1993, and were taken by a nice woman whose name I no longer have.  She sent these pictures (and others, of our children) to us in the mail.    My thanks to the anonymous Durangoite-- if you see these, send me a note so I can give you proper credit.
August 2001, and No. 486 is turning its train after the day's operations.  Here it's waiting on the west side of the balloon track.
Two blocks north of the depot, No. 473 is returning with the Cascade turn on 3/13/2010. On this day she's sporting a snowplow, a fairly unusual situation but not surprising this year, given the large amount of snow received during the winter.


Rockwood is basically the last easily-accessible track location until Silverton.  Here a southbound train led by No. 480 has just left the station stop around the curve, and is headed downgrade towards Durango.  It's July 2004.  What doesn't show in the photos (thankfully) is the explosion of homebuilding in the Rockwood area.

With the two boxcars at the head end, this train has a definite "period" feel about it!  You'd have to change the lettering on the tender, however.

The last two photos are of the same train but further south, at the US 550 highway overpass.  It's not hard to chase a train between these two points, if one is reasonably agile...


I finally achieved the Holy Grail-- photographing the High Line from the ground!  On July 31, 2006, we found a way to safely hike out to a location where we could shoot the southernmost curves of the line (the classic D&S photo location).  The train we photographed was the second train of the four running that day.

The speed limit through here is 5 mph.  Here the head end creeps around the corner.  It's surprising how little audible warning you get-- the train really can't be heard until just a few seconds before it makes its appearance.
The train had a pair of boxcars behind the tender.
More of the train is visible now, as the head end reaches the retaining wall section.
K-28 No. 473 has the honors.  The smallest class of locomotives currently working on the D&S, it nevertheless had no trouble with the extra-length train.
Here the Animas river is visible in the gorge below.
About a minute behind the train was the speeder, watching for fires.


Winter Scenes

Living near Durango, I have the privilege of photographing the line in all kinds of weather.  I find that wintertime offers a wonderful opportunity for striking images.  Here are a few from recent trips.

In February 2007, No. 478 was painted in traditional Rio Grande lettering for a charter.  Here she is, a couple of weeks later, returning to the barn on the point of the daily Cascade train in a driving snowstorm. A closer look at the tender.  The classic herald is a real treat to see.  The crew are taking the weather philosophically...
On February 24th, No. 478 is leading another charter train.  This is nominally a work train, taking rail to Tacoma, but has two coaches full of British railfans on the tail.  Here it's crossing the highway at Shalona.  By this time they had already done three series of run-bys.  Note that the spark arrestor has been removed from the stack. We rode the Cascade train on January 7, 2007, and the next five photos are from that trip.  Here the locomotive, K-36 No. 482, backs onto the train just prior to departure.
About ready to make the connection.  The brakeman had to kick the couplers to align them properly before the engineer closed the final gap. On the north side of the High Bridge, the engineer vents the left-hand pipes, forming a nice rainbow above the river (though you don't really see it in this photo).
Just before our lunch stop, the train halts at Cascade Tank (per typical procedure) and tops off the tender. Here's a shot on the return trip, climbing the slight grade between the High Bridge and the Highline.

Summertime Scenes

Here are some recent images from different vantage points on the lower section of the line.

June 28, 2008, 8:14 AM.  K-36 No. 486 is getting ready for the day's work behind the roundhouse.  She'll have the second train out.  No. 480 and train are currently loading at the depot. At the same time, No. 478 is also prepping for the day's run.  The crew are flushing the pipes in this view.
8:21 AM, No. 480 crosses the first Animas bridge near downtown Durango. 9:15 AM, a mile before the US 550 underpass, the train heads onto one of the few tangents. ... and a slightly closer view.  I had a nice perch on the cliff above the rails.
9:43 AM.  Back to No. 486, which is approaching Hermosa-- here she's crossing the bridge over the creek. Just about to the highway crossing now.  The gates have come down.
Across the road and hitting the grade on Hermosa hill now. Same locomotive, same location, different day and angle.  On July 5, 2008, No. 486 descends the toe of Hermosa hill at 5:40 PM.

There will be more images on this page, as I can get to them.  Stay tuned for updates and additions!

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2006, James R. Griffin.  All rights reserved.