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A ride with a view

JERRY McBRIDE/Durango Herald

Jeremy Arnold, right, with Girardi’s Crane and Rigging, and Bill Melcher, with Melcher Brothers Inc., steady the Knight Sky railcar as it is lifted off its wheels by a crane and then lowered onto a semitrailer on Monday at Melcher Brothers Inc. at Animas Airpark, where the railcar was built.

What’s red and weighs 29,000 pounds and holds 30 people? The Knight Sky. It’s the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad’s newest open-air observation gondola.

It took Melcher Brothers Inc., of Durango, almost a year to build, and it was and engineered by Clarence Anderson, of Telluride Iron Works, also of Durango.

The Knight Sky was built with some 20th century technology. This is the first time a car on Durango’s narrow-gauge tracks will use roller-bearing trucks, the wheel pairs on the railcar. “And that should offer a smoother ride and less maintenance,” said Jim Melcher, of Melcher Brothers.

The railcar’s construction was contracted by Denny and Judy Beggrow, owners of Soaring Tree Top Adventures, and D&SNG will operate it with 15 seats dedicated to the railroad and 15 to Soaring Tree Top Adventures to take customers to the soaring resort, located north of Durango along the Animas River.

The Knight Sky joins the railroad’s other deluxe and first-class railcars, the Legacy and the Legend, which take patrons to Soaring Tree Top Adventures. The new car is expected to be on display during D&SNG’s Narrow Gauge Day at the depot May 4.

Jerry McBride

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