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Old 05-20-2012, 06:20 PM
 
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Before Otto Mears began building narrow gauge railroads in the region, he built roads. One of his trains, out of Silverton and over Red Mountain Pass to terminus at Ironton, almost made it all the way to Ouray. And would have, save that last section would have been quite a challenge.

That is also the area, just south of Ouray, where he placed the toll station, when the route of present-day US 550 his toll road. A suitable spot no was easily getting past without paying, with sheer rock wall rising up on one side, and near cliff to the river far below on the other.
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Old 05-20-2012, 07:58 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Idunn View Post
Before Otto Mears began building narrow gauge railroads in the region, he built roads. One of his trains, out of Silverton and over Red Mountain Pass to terminus at Ironton, almost made it all the way to Ouray. And would have, save that last section would have been quite a challenge.

That is also the area, just south of Ouray, where he placed the toll station, when the route of present-day US 550 his toll road. A suitable spot no was easily getting past without paying, with sheer rock wall rising up on one side, and near cliff to the river far below on the other.
Otto Mears truly built some engineering marvels in his Colorado railroad building days. The Silverton Railroad from Silverton to Ironton was one. Another was the Rio Grande Southern , built from Ridgway, over Dallas Divide to Placerville, south to Vance Jct., with a branch into Telluride, the main line continuing southward over Lizard Head Pass through Rico, to Dolores, thence southeastward to Mancos, then east through Hesperus to Durango. The section between Ilium (just south of Vance Jct.) through Ophir Loop was so full of curvature and trestles, that the most tortuous portion was known as "Otto's Puzzle." The line was built in 1890 and 1891. It was profitable for only a short time, until the Silver Panic of 1893 collapsed the "bubble" that was caused by the Sherman Silver Purchase Act until it was repealed that year. The Rio Grande Southern Railroad, though it never made a significant profit after 1893, lasted until the early 1950's, when it was scrapped. It should have been saved--it was probably the single most spectacular piece of railroad ever built in the United States.

As for the Silverton Railroad over Red Mountain Pass, Mears had undertaken engineering to build the remaining portion from Ironton to Ouray as a cog railway--the only railroad construction that would have been feasible from an engineering and operations standpoint--but the Silver Panic of 1893 dashed all hopes of that. In a parallel of what is likely for many people with today's brewing economic debacle in Colorado, Mears left Colorado for a number of years in order to make a living--building the Chesapeake Beach Railway in Washington, D.C. and Maryland during that time. He would later return to Colorado (later moving to Pasadena, California when he health would not permit him to stay in Colorado), but he never regained the wealth and stature the he had before the Silver Panic. All of his intelligence, wealth, entrepreneurship, extensive political connections, and hard work were not enough to withstand a Colorado economy blown to bits from the crash from an unsustainable government-induced bubble. There is a lesson there . . .

Last edited by jazzlover; 05-20-2012 at 09:16 PM..
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Old 05-22-2012, 03:10 PM
 
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thank you, I will be driving it in a couple of weeks too Jazzlover
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Old 07-23-2012, 07:56 PM
 
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We drove the Million Dollar highway, it was so beautiful and not scary at all. The elevation was no problem for my husband although it made me feel terrible.
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Old 08-06-2012, 10:35 AM
 
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Default Durango to Telluride via 550

Driving this mid-August. How long does it take? I'm not in a rush, just guessing google maps' 2.5 hour estimate is probably not too accurate. Thanks
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Old 08-07-2012, 09:08 AM
Status: "Not politically correct" (set 4 days ago)
 
Location: Western Colorado
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Originally Posted by charden123 View Post
Driving this mid-August. How long does it take? I'm not in a rush, just guessing google maps' 2.5 hour estimate is probably not too accurate. Thanks
Sometimes there's an hour wait for construction. Sometimes at night it's closed for construction. Watch out for afternoon storms and rock slides.

I would go in the morning and plan for several hours. Take your time, there's plenty of cool turnoffs to see the mountains. Have fun.
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Old 07-02-2013, 05:46 PM
 
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We have been to Durango and took the train to Silverton a few years ago. However, we are going to Ouray this July and staying a couple days. I remember my mother and father driving this back in the 50s and my mother said they needed to spend another million on it. LOL I appreciate all the advise about this road and will plan to take it easy, albeit in my late mother's Cadillac and I will think about her. :-)
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Old 07-02-2013, 09:20 PM
 
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I just drove it 2 days ago (went from Durango to Grand Junction) - no construction at that time. I am TERRIFIED of heights, but wanted to go to Silverton and Ouray - so I made the sacrifice. I drove because I get car sick. It was very scary for me. But you just can't beat the scenery!! Worth every white knuckle and bead of sweat on my brow!

We left Albuquerque around 8:30isham and got into Durango around lunchtime. Window shopped along Main Street and had lunch at The Diamond Belle saloon. Then we headed out and made it to Silverton (don't remember how long it took) and stopped for some coffee/hot chocolate (it was chilly up there!). Then we headed on to Ouray (got in around 5ish) and stopped at their hot springs public pool and swam and played for about an hour. Then we headed out for Grand Junction and made it there around 8pm that evening. It was a long, but awesome day!

Safe journeys!
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Old 07-03-2013, 10:32 AM
 
1,742 posts, read 2,621,066 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzlover View Post
Otto Mears truly built some engineering marvels in his Colorado railroad building days. The Silverton Railroad from Silverton to Ironton was one. Another was the Rio Grande Southern , built from Ridgway, over Dallas Divide to Placerville, south to Vance Jct., with a branch into Telluride, the main line continuing southward over Lizard Head Pass through Rico, to Dolores, thence southeastward to Mancos, then east through Hesperus to Durango. The section between Ilium (just south of Vance Jct.) through Ophir Loop was so full of curvature and trestles, that the most tortuous portion was known as "Otto's Puzzle." The line was built in 1890 and 1891. It was profitable for only a short time, until the Silver Panic of 1893 collapsed the "bubble" that was caused by the Sherman Silver Purchase Act until it was repealed that year. The Rio Grande Southern Railroad, though it never made a significant profit after 1893, lasted until the early 1950's, when it was scrapped. It should have been saved--it was probably the single most spectacular piece of railroad ever built in the United States.

As for the Silverton Railroad over Red Mountain Pass, Mears had undertaken engineering to build the remaining portion from Ironton to Ouray as a cog railway--the only railroad construction that would have been feasible from an engineering and operations standpoint--but the Silver Panic of 1893 dashed all hopes of that. In a parallel of what is likely for many people with today's brewing economic debacle in Colorado, Mears left Colorado for a number of years in order to make a living--building the Chesapeake Beach Railway in Washington, D.C. and Maryland during that time. He would later return to Colorado (later moving to Pasadena, California when he health would not permit him to stay in Colorado), but he never regained the wealth and stature the he had before the Silver Panic. All of his intelligence, wealth, entrepreneurship, extensive political connections, and hard work were not enough to withstand a Colorado economy blown to bits from the crash from an unsustainable government-induced bubble. There is a lesson there . . .
ATV'ed Otto Mears toll road from Poncha Pass to Bonanza many times, great shelf road.
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Old 07-04-2013, 02:23 PM
 
2,728 posts, read 3,698,092 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lhafer View Post
I just drove it 2 days ago (went from Durango to Grand Junction) - no construction at that time. I am TERRIFIED of heights, but wanted to go to Silverton and Ouray - so I made the sacrifice. I drove because I get car sick. It was very scary for me. But you just can't beat the scenery!! Worth every white knuckle and bead of sweat on my brow!

We left Albuquerque around 8:30isham and got into Durango around lunchtime. Window shopped along Main Street and had lunch at The Diamond Belle saloon. Then we headed out and made it to Silverton (don't remember how long it took) and stopped for some coffee/hot chocolate (it was chilly up there!). Then we headed on to Ouray (got in around 5ish) and stopped at their hot springs public pool and swam and played for about an hour. Then we headed out for Grand Junction and made it there around 8pm that evening. It was a long, but awesome day!

Safe journeys!
Wow! We are wimps, I guess. We are going from El Paso to Durango in one day ( done it before, not bad) and then going just to Ouray the next day. Trying not to be in a hurry over the mountain. Staying there two days. Need to find out more about the hotsprings in Ouray as I like those, great for my back an shoulders.
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