RIDGWAY – The weekend of Sept. 16-19 will provide plenty of opportunity to experience the railroad heritage of the San Juan Mountains as the Ridgway Railroad Museum presents the ninth annual Ouray County Railroad Days and Narrow Gauge Symposium.
The weekend kicks off on Thursday and Friday with guided hikes along the route of Otto Mears’ Silverton Railroad, from Red Mountain Pass to the Albany town site below Ironton. Thursday’s route will go from the top of the pass to the Guston town site, and the Friday route will continue from Guston to the Corkscrew turntable, then to the railbed’s terminus north of Ironton. Trip leader Don Paulson advises that these downhill hikes require some bushwhacking, so participants should wear long pants, bring lunch and weather gear, and be in good shape. Those interested should meet at the Corkscrew Gulch 4WD trailhead, 7.8 miles south of Ouray on U.S. Hwy. 550 by 9 a.m. Call Paulson at 970/325-0931 for information.
On Saturday the Ridgway Railroad Museum will host an open house from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., including demonstrations of RGS Motor 1 on the half hour. Saturday will also feature an open house at Paulson’s extensive model layout between 10 a.m. and noon, and the Narrow Gauge Symposium at the United Church of the San Juans in Ridgway from 1:30 to 4 p.m. Then, at 7 p.m., George Niederauer will give an in-depth presentation on the restoration of Denver & Rio Grande locomotive 315 that often ran to Ouray.
The weekend will conclude on Sunday with guided tours of the routes of the Rio Grande Southern and the Ouray Branch of the Denver and Rio Grande. These will be car caravans with talks by museum staff at selected viewpoints. The RGS trip will leave the museum at 9:30 a.m. and return by 4 p.m., and the Ouray trip will leave at 10 a.m. Trips are limited to a maximum of eight cars, so pre-registration is encouraged.
For more information about Ouray County Railroad Days, call 970/626-4239 or 970/626-4373.