The weekend kicks off next Thursday and Friday with guided hikes along the route of Otto Mears's Silverton Railroad, from Red Mountain Pass to the Albany town site below Ironton. Trip leader Don Paulson advises that these downhill hikes require some bushwhacking, so participants should wear long pants, bring weather gear and be in good shape. Anyone interested in the hikes should meet at the Corkscrew 4WD trailhead, located 7.8 miles south of Ouray on US 550, at 10 a.m. each day. There is a $10 fee for those who are not members of the Ridgway Railroad Museum or Ouray County Historical Society. For more information on the hikes, call Paulson at 325-0931.
The Ridgway Railroad Museum (located in the Ridgway Area Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center at the corner of highways 550 and 62) will host an open house on Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. This day will feature educational programs and regular demonstrations, including actual running of the recreated RGS Motor No. 1, the prototype for the famous Galloping Goose.
The annual Narrow Gauge Railroad Symposium will also take place on Saturday at the Ridgway Town Hall Community Center on Railroad Avenue, a series of interesting free talks on Southwestern Colorado's world-famous narrow gauge history. The symposium will be held from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. and talks will include Preservation of the Trout Lake Trestle, Restoration of Ouray Caboose 0575, an introduction to the museum's reference materials and other topics.
Completing Saturday's schedule will be a talk by Karl Schaeffer on How Not to Run a Railroad at 7 p.m. at the Ridgway Town Hall, with an extensive slide show documenting problems that were encountered during operations of local railroads.
The weekend will conclude with Sunday's guided tours of the area's historic rail routes. These will include the Rio Grande Southern route from Ridgway to Lizard Head Pass and the Ouray Branch of the Denver and Rio Grande. These tours will be car caravans, with short talks by museum staff at a number of significant locations along the way. The RGS trip will leave from the Ridgway Railroad Museum at 9:30 a.m.; participants should bring a lunch, and can plan to return to Ridgway by 4 p.m. The Ouray Branch trip will leave from the Railroad Museum at 10 a.m. and end about an hour later in Ridgway. The fee for these guided trips is a donation to the museum, with a maximum of eight cars per trip, so reservations are encouraged.
For more information about Ouray County Railroad Days, call 626-4239 or 626-4373.