Counterfeit Memories: Black Smoke & Leaves of Fire

My grandfather was a locomotive engineer back when rails provided the most convenient and common means of transportation. His affinity for the work and the beauty he saw during his career sparked curiosity in later generations.


The years brought new modes of transportation however my family's love of trains provided them an active role in my childhood. Over my life I've ridden many trains all over the world, however, there is one ride in particular which will always hold a special place in my heart.


Growing up in California, there were no seasons---so we had to go to them. In other states, wedged between summer and winter, is fall. Although short, fall brings much to do and see, especially in places like Colorado where the scent of spice carries in the wind and a nip in the air urges trees to change color before shedding their leaves for the winter.


At peak foliage my family would pile into the car and make our way to Durango, Colorado. The point of the trip was, of course, to ride a train---specifically one operated by the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.


The train dates back to the 1920s and runs its original 45 mile route between Durango and Silverton---winding its way through Animas Canyon into the heart of San Juan National Forest. The grandeur of the mountains and splendor of the trees make you feel infinitely small.


As black smoke billows out the chimney, the mountain is set ablaze with hints of yellow, orange, and red. The click-clack of wheels mixes with the rush of a cool autumn breeze. As the the tracks converge on the horizon, what has past and what it to come is out of mind. All that matters is the feeling, the view, the moment at hand.


Washington, D.C., USA 

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©2019 by Taylor Mackay