Durango & Silverton Railfest 2005

Railfest is the Durango & Silverton’s annual event catering to railfans specifically, at least moreso than their regular tourist-centric operations. Every year since 1998, the D&S has rolled out the red carpet for fans and operated an assortment of interesting, historic equipment, including the Eureka & Palisades #4 (a 4-4-0), various Galloping Geese, narrow gauge motorcars, and special runs of the D&aamp;S’s own equipment. 2005 would yield a couple of special trains, RGS Goose 5, and motorcar runs, but the E&P #4 would take the year off due to FRA paperwork snags. Still, based on past years, it would still be a stellar few days of railfanning.

Railfest 2005 ran from August 24th through the 28th. Originally, I hadn’t planned to attend, as I thought I’d be out of town. However, a few days before, everything got up-ended, and the weekend was open. Unfortunately that meant I didn’t have time to still get tickets on the Goose (booked full), but at least I’d get to see it. So, at 0400h onFriday morning, I was out of bed, packed, dressed, and on my way over to Durango. I decided to head down on Friday, since three days of shooting would give me a better chance at covering the wide variety of things happening. Looking over the schedule the night before, my two primary goals were to catch Friday afternoon’s mixed photo special, and then to catch RGS Goose 5 on its way back to Durango on Sunday. Saturday had the so-called President’s Special and a few Goose trips out of Silverton to Elk Park, and of course all three days would have the usual two scheduled trains. More than enough material to keep my shutter clicking for the weekend.

Probably the most notable event of Railfest 2005 was the reincarnation of D&RGW 472. The real 472 was sent to the White Pass & Yukon as part of World War II. It was wrecked, and subsequently after the war, offered back to the DRGW. This was a little odd, since the rest of the K-28 class that was sent north to the WP&YR was cut up in Seattle, without ever reaching home rails again. The DRGW didn’t want it, so it was scrapped at Ogden in June of 1946. Its boiler survived for many years at the Army’s Pueblo Ordnance Depot, however. Three K-28s survived the Army – 473, 476, and 478 – and today, all three are owned by the Durango & Silverton. For Railfest, the D&S repainted 478 into a green boiler scheme, similar to what the Rio Grande used on various steamers, and renumbered it to the long lost 472. Its first appearance was on Friday’s photo mixed, and you could literally see the surprise in peoples’ faces as they saw the unit for the first time. Truly a special, memorable thing for the D&S to have done, much like the bumblebee scheme applied last year. The rumor is that it will remain in this paint until the end of September, probably on account of Trains Unlimited’s photo freights at the end of the month.

Aside from the rain every afternoon and the resulting cloud cover, the trip was a success. I managed to catch pretty much everything I wanted, and the best part was that it was so much more fun than chasing mainline steam. For the most part, everyone behaved themselves and was quite courteous towards their fellow photographers, leading to an enjoyable, rather than frustrating experience. Saturday morning at Shalona Lake was the best organized, best behaved impromptu photo line I’d ever seen. Add to that the first class operation that the Durango & Silverton puts on and it was a great weekend. Well done to all involved!

Since any narrative of this trip would basically involve a sequence of running up and down between Silverton, the Shalona Lake crossing, and various points below Hermosa, I’ll spare you the boredom and monotony. What follows are the 63 pictures that best tell the story of Railfest 2005, from my camera’s point of view. Enjoy!

Friday, August 26

Saturday, August 27

Sunday, August 28


All photographs in this trip report were taken with a Canon EOS 10D using either a Canon 28-105mm USM or a Canon 75-300mm f4-5.3 IS/USM.

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This work is copyright 2020 by Nathan D. Holmes, but all text and images are licensed and reusable under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license. Basically you’re welcome to use any of this as long as it’s not for commercial purposes, you credit me as the source, and you share any derivative works under the same license. I’d encourage others to consider similar licenses for their works.