Friday, July 11, 2008

Silverton CO - 547 miles

Some time ago I read From Stampede to Timberline, a wonderful book about old mining towns in Colorado. There was a haunting story about a beautiful dance hall girl who was known as Silverheels by the miners in town. According to the story the town was devastated by a small pox epidemic and Silverheels tirelessly nursed ill miners without regard for her own health. Hundreds died. When it was almost over, Silverheels disappeared. People later said that they saw her ghost visiting the graves of miners she nursed with a vail over her face. The vail hid the awlful damaged done by the small pox disease to her beautiful face. My memory must be shot. I could have sworn the story took place in Silverton and Seven and I spent a good hour or so looking for Silverheel's grave in the cemetry overlooking Silverton without much luck. We even stopped in the local historical society's office and talked to a grumpy lady about it. She didn't have a copy of From Stampede to Timberland for me to check. She said there wasn't a small pox epidemic in Silverton. I looked it up on the web and found out the story took place in Buckskin Joe.

Silverton is a tourist town now. There is still a mine there. You can see mine tailings in the mountains close to town. There are a lot of gift shops and restaurants that open up when the popular Durango & Silverton narrow gauge train from Durango pulls in. Without that train showing up each day Silverton would dry up and blow away. The train ride has to be spectacular if it comes close to what we saw on our ride up US 550. There is quite a few things to do in Silverton. It is a beautiful place that sits in a valley surrounded by mountains.

We stayed at the Silver Summit RV park which is within walking distance of most of Silverton's stores and restaurants. The owner is a nice guy with a laid back attitude. The RV park was clean, well organized, and had everything. We used Passport America without problems. There was still snow on the ground in and around Silverton.

Getting in and out of Silverton is an adventure. A beautiful adventure. The road in and out of Silverton is narrow and steep. It is the definition of mountain driving. Much of the road, Highway 555, is cut out of the side of mountains. One inattentive moment and you could be testing the airworthiness of your RV. Someplaces we traveled were downright scary. Lots of 20 mph curves. It is only 50 miles from Durango to Silverton but it takes at least 2 hours to drive. I was bushed.