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[San Juan Silver Stage | July 2020 |Story, Kathryn R. Burke | Images, Carolyn Wilcox]
Now is the perfect time to visit Silverton, a town nestled in the incomparable beauty of the San Juan Mountains. It’s refreshingly cool and it’s comfortably uncrowded since the Silverton train isn’t scheduled to steam into town before mid-August. Without the 3x-daily surge of train passengers, summer visitors coming up for lunch don’t have to wait in line for a restaurant table or be rushed to move on and make room for the next trainload.
Because of rules limiting diners to 50 persons or 50 percent capacity (whichever is less), many restaurants have expanded their service venue to patios and parking areas, so “al fresco” dining is a pleasant experience. Most, including Handlebars, Brown Bear, Pickle Barrel, and Bent Elbow, are open. Several, like the Shady Lady (serving lunch only), have new owners and/or a new look.
The season is in full swing and the town is really busy, even without the train. I recently visited Handlebars, and every table was full. It’s a popular spot beloved by many Western Coloradans and a regular stop for annual visitors coming from all over the world. [See ad, back page.] Be sure to pick up a souvenir from their tee-shirt counter. And if you’re a mask wearer, they have some cute ones.
Visiting Silverton isn’t just about good food. Although it’s known as a great place for lunch, shopping here is fun, too. And without the train chugging into town, shopkeepers have more time to visit with customers, giving personal attention and taking time to share an anecdote or a little local color.
Stop at Weathertop Wovens, just up the street from Handlebars. Husband-wife team Linda and Gary Davis build their own looms and weave beautiful clothing in a rainbow of colors.
Ye Olde Livery once stabled mules upstairs. Now it’s a gift shop, gallery and art studio.
Meander back along Greene Street, past the Train Store, Funnel Cakes—try one, you’ll love it—and Fetche’s Mercantile, with an eclectic collection of maps, books, tee-shirts, and souvenirs. Cross over to Ortegas and check out the Indian jewelry, pottery, and Native American handicrafts. At the far end of the shopping district, put in some time at Kurrowong Gallery located in Ye Olde Livery—yes, it really was a livery, and they used to keep the mules upstairs! Today, Australian painter Edith Eggett displays her spiritual, mystical paintings alongside a wonderful array of jewelry, clothing, and accessories and collectibles. Next door her daughter, Edith Mary’s, store, Henry Smith, is a visual treat with pottery, toys, clothing for kids and grownups, books and maps, and more. I found a wonderful moose-themed nightshirt. (And yes, there are moose in Silverton!)