William Emory was an 1831 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. When the Mexican War broke out, he was assigned as chief engineer officer to General Stephen Kearny, whose army traversed largely unknown territories in the West. The U.S. War Department would later print 10,000 copies of Emory's Notes of a Military Reconnaissance, which made a significant contribution to understanding the geography and topography of the Southwest.
The Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Branch of the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad extends from the town of Durango to the mining camp of Silverton. Built in 1882 through one of the most rugged mountain areas of the nation, its complexity remains a testament to the role civil engineering played in the development of the western United States.
The tracks rise up the sheer, steep Animas Canyon, running along a rock ledge just wide enough to carry the train. The line is used today as a tourist attraction, carrying visitors through the picturesque San Juan Mountains.