We are in the awesome little town of Silverton, Colorado. We absolutely love this part of the country, no wonder they call this area the Million Dollar Highway. :-)
We actually drove the highway backwards from everyone else. We started in Dolores and went to Mountain Valley, then Telluride, then Ouray. From Ouray we drove to Silverton, then Durango and back to Cortez. It was a total of 240 miles, some of the most beautiful miles we have ever driven. It reminded us so much of Alaska. We also stopped in more small towns we loved on the way, Rico and Ridgeway. This is a "wowser" part of Colorado. We enjoyed our stop in Silverton and will be going back. I am posting a bit more about the history of Silverton below. Check back later for more from Colorado.
Silverton is a National Historic Landmark, part of the San Juan Skyway (with the Million Dollar Highway connecting Silverton to Ouray), home to Animas Forks and the Alpine Loop, and the summer destination for the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad train ride.
Gold was discovered here in 1860, and after negotiations with the Ute Indians, the area was opened for settlement. The Town of Silverton was platted in 1874, and by 1875 the population had doubled. The Stony Pass wagon road became a toll road in 1879, and supplies came in over the Continental Divide from Del Norte. The greatest boom to the area was the construction of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad (now known as the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad) in 1882. By that time, there were seven towns, including Animas Forks (now a well-visited ghost town in the summer months) and Howardsville, which was the first county seat on the Western Slope.
Silverton is now the only town left in San Juan County. Its year-round population of 500 is supported by the tourism industry rather than by mining. People from all over the globe come to see the magnificent scenery and to experience the rich history of the area. While summer is the bigger season of the year with the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad train ride from May through October, as well as numerous other area attractions, winter has seen more tourism with the opening in 1990 of Silverton Mountain, an extreme ski area, where snowboarder and Olympic Gold Medalist Shaun White trained in the winter of 2009.