Time Travel By Train


The Durango to Silverton Train Ride is about 45 miles each way … at an average speed of 18mph, that’s an all-day round trip. A friend and I signed up for the Fall Photographer’s Train Special months in advance and had been looking forward to this day. With only photographer’s aboard (and a few patient spouses) the train made some stops so we could get out to capture the historic locomotive chugging by in the San Juan Mountains scenery. There was one photo stop on the way to Silverton and four on the way back to Durango. It was a lot of riding and looking at the beautiful mountain views along the Animas River. An open car and windows allowed some access to shooting from the moving train and drinks, donuts and lunch were included. But wouldn’t you know that on this late September day Mother Nature was at it again, and much of the day was rainy. On the good side, the weather made the autumn colors saturated, and harsh mid-day lighting was not a problem. On the bad side, it was difficult to keep my lens dry even though I was equipped with a rain sleeve for my camera. Another obstacle was the 80 some other photographers vying for a good place in the line-up behind the orange tape. Once you had a spot there was no room to move around and it was difficult to stay out of each others’ way. Those with longer limbs seemed to fare better! In the end it was a fun experience, I’m glad I did it and I got a few shots I like … in spite of the challenges.

‘Full Steam Ahead’ © Denise Bush

‘Bridge Crossing’ © Denise Bush
click here to view larger or purchase a print

‘Coming Through’ © Denise Bush

‘Number 473’ © Denise Bush
click here to view larger or purchase a print

‘The Last Bend’ © Denise Bush
click here to view larger or purchase a print

‘Stream Crossing’ © Denise Bush

‘Caboose No. 0540’ © Denise Bush

63 Responses to “Time Travel By Train”

  1. Looks like a great success even with the obstacles! BRAVO!

  2. must have been great fun – and you managed to get some good shots

    • It was fun Maureen. My friend and I have scoped out a place to see the train coming through. Not only will it be free but we’ll get some shots that are different from everyone else’s. Thanks for your visit and comment.

  3. 5 Judith B Hazen

    I love that trip…but do agree it’s a long day! We rode in the open car one time and came home digging cinders out of our ears. Your shots are beautiful. Sounds like you made the most of it.

    • Just saw this in the queue … Yes! it was a long day. Anyone just going for the ride could take the train to Silverton then the shuttle bus back to Durango. I experienced a bit of cinders when I went back to the open car for a short time.

  4. Great photos, Denise! I love these old steam trains. They have so much character rolling through the landscape.

  5. What a gorgeous set of images! They are all quite unique. The uniquest (a new word?) is the “Coming Through” image. Cant’ stop staring at it!

    • Thanks you Season. I’m glad I included the ‘Coming Through’ image … I wished I had gotten the left train a little more forward. We had to shoot fast and at f/6.3 I think I was afraid the depth of field would be too shallow to capture both trains with sharp focus.

  6. How cool! Despite the challenges, what a great and fun idea. Will you be selling pix to train buffs and affiliated magazines? I would think that would be a small, but profitable market. When my son was small, he was really into trains and my spouse would take him to shows and events– there were some folks whose whole life revolved around trains!

    • You are right … there are a lot of train buffs out there. I am not sure what the allowance for selling usage rights would be legally … I signed something but didn’t read it! Of course the trains are very specific to Durango – Silverton.

  7. Lovely pictures, I would love to do the same. Love that large puffs of smoke came out of the train there!

    • Thank you. The smoke is my favorite thing about these. Because I was shooting with a fast shutter speed it captured the detail in the smoke. They do a winter and fall photographer’s train.

  8. Wow I love these shots. The colors and the contrast in the Last Bend is really eye catching. You would never know you were struggling for the shot.

    • Thanks Beth. I’m glad you can’t tell it was a struggle. I was surprised they came out well. The clouds and rain were a benefit to saturate the colors.

  9. 18 Joseph Perno

    These are really Amazing Denise.

  10. Oh wow, Denise. All of your shots are outstanding. Wish I could have been there.

    • You would have liked it Ken. Maybe you could time a trip out around one of the photographer’s trains. (Thanks for always looking and taking the time to leave a comment!)

  11. Nice shots Denise! “(and a few patient spouses) 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Thank you! I leave my spouse at home when I go out shooting. Many of my friends complain that there spouse’s are not tolerant of there photography. If I see something along the road when my husband is driving he usually says ‘it’s too late’ (to stop)!

  12. That would have been a trying day for me, I fear! I’m not keen on having to compete for a position to shoot or to be locked into a particular spot and I’m sure there were tons of spots more places that you’d have enjoyed lingering to set up different angles. But your grace and patience paid off. You’ve got some lovely shots here.

    • Photographing with a big group is not my thing either! In fact, you had to be a little aggressive if you wanted a good spot. There was a man in the open car who thought his group owned the whole car … he was not nice when he came and leaned up against me to push me out of the spot.

  13. Great shots considering the challenges! Really love “The Last Bend”!

    • Thank you … I think? I hope people find them decent even if they don’t know the challenges. 🙂

      • I apologize if I did not express myself correctly. I think they’re absolutely fantastic shots with or without knowing the challenges. The weather really adds to the scene and intrigue. I was complimenting your talent and skill to capture a great (or many great) photograph(s) despite the lack of space and other photographers.

      • No need to apologize … I know what you mean! When I’ve judged or mentored I’ve often said, ‘excuses don’t make a photograph any better’ … so I hoped it wasn’t the case.

      • Not at all! I enjoyed the background story and imagining the crowd of photographers finding their shots.

  14. 33 Angela Moyer

    Excellent images! It was sure challenging dodging elbows, hands, and bodies!

  15. 35 Deb

    These are fantastic Denise!! I would love that trip, the scenery must have been amazing!

    • Thank you Deb. The scenery was great but shooting from the train didn’t work for me. It’s better to just sit and relax and look out the window. I thought they picked out some nice places to photograph the train in the scenery.

  16. Trains….trains….trains. I knew I liked you for some reason. 😉 And donuts, too. 😉 ;-). Is there much more to life? Images? Oh, yeah. #473 nestled in the foliage, and The Last Bend with its consist of butterscotch cars.

  17. Fantastic post, Denise. Especially “The Last Bend”.

  18. In spite of all the challenges you came away with some great compositions! Like the way the rain enhanced the color….I’d be thrilled with these!

  19. 43 Emilio Pasquale

    I’ve wanted to take this train for years. Never thought of all the other passengers vying for the same shot, though. Maybe I’ll just scope out the area and plant myself somewhere nearby. These are all great shots, Denise. Beautiful work.

    • This was a special photographer’s train ride. It cost twice as much as the regular passenger ride. You could photograph the train as it leaves Durango then drive to Silverton for it’s arrival and departure and back to Durango for its arrival. There really aren’t places in between to view it as it is going through the mountains … unless you want to hike. With the regular passenger train there are people in the open cars hanging out taking pictures. We didn’t have this since all the photographers got off at our special stops.

  20. Thank you for taking me there virtually!! It’s so absorbing ☺️☺️
    Cheers, Charu

  21. 47 Fred Lambert

    Hello Denise, I just stopped by your site to catch up on the great photos your getting in Colorado. I think these trains may be my favorite photos out of all the stuff you do.
    Fred Lambert

  22. Oh what a fun experience! I love the steamies. How grand that you were allowed out to make such wonderful images of the train, and the environment/scenery.

    I think you found wonderful compositions, and overcame any challenges brilliantly.

  23. That does look like a great opportunity, but your description of the challenges is a reminder that there are so many photographers out there, looking to shoot these great moments. I love what you did, and the smoke seems to tie everything together in a wonderful way.

  24. Wow! What a great trip! My favorites are the last Bend and the Caboose. Both bring me into the images.

  25. Beautiful pictures! The smoke, in stark contrast to the bright colors in the background, make your photos look mysterious.

  26. These are amazing pictures Denise. Each one is special in it’s own way.

  27. Superb photographs, Denise! 👌

  28. Such beautiful pictures of when trains looked so magnificent and stately. So lovely with the back-drop of God’s glorious creation.

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