Telluride, Colorado

Nestled in a U-shaped valley etched out by millions of years of glacial activity, the rustic Victorian town of Telluride is crowned by crystal-clear waterfalls that plummet more than 365 feet to become the headwaters of the San Miguel River. Colorado's tallest free-falling waterfall, Bridal Veil Falls, and Ingram Falls together add a sense of beauty refined through the spray and mists that dance in the wind to this high Alpine countryside.

The Ute Indians were the first folks to come to know this area and they were followed in the 1760's by Spanish explorers such as Juan Rivera and the Friars Dominguez and Escalante. The fur trade held sway here during the 1820s to 1840s, then came a few settlers in the 1860s. However, come 1875, hordes of prospectors swarmed all over the mountains and canyons here hunting out the mother lode of gold or silver. Many tons of ore were removed from these mountains but only a few men made any money.

In 1881, Otto Mears completed a toll road into Telluride that allowed wagons into an area where only pack mules could go before. In 1890, the railroad arrived and made large scale mining possible (finally they could get the ore out). It was here in June, 1889, that Butch Cassidy robbed the San Miguel Valley Bank of $24,580 and began his career as a bank robber (this was before he hooked up with "The Wild Bunch").

Telluride played a major role in the Colorado Labor Wars: the fight between the miners looking for decent pay for 8-hour days in a safe working environment and the mine owners fighting to keep the workers going for 12-hour shifts, 24-hours a day in treacherous and unsafe working environments. The problem was statewide, as was the struggle. The biggest problem came from the state siding with the mine owners, placing the Colorado National Guard at the mine owners' disposal and refusing to enforce already enacted state mining safety laws.

Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse were hired by LL Nunn to come to Ophir (near Telluride) and build the Ames Hydroelectric Generating Plant to supply AC power to the Gold King Mine. This was the 1st time commercial-grade AC power was transmitted for any distance (2 miles). With General Electric (headed by JP Morgan and Thomas Edison) promoting DC power transmission, this successful Westinghouse Electric demonstration sparked the "War of the Currents." The 1893 Chicago World's Fair had exhibits to promote both AC and DC current but, following the fair, Westinghouse was awarded the contract to build an AC generation plant at Niagara Falls. Before long, Westinghouse Electric was building power plants in Idaho, Montana, Utah, Colorado, Mexico and on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls.

Starting in 1939, the Idarado Mining Company began a long process of buying up all the hard-rock mines in the Telluride and Red Mountain Mining Districts. Idarado finally got control of all the mines in the Telluride area by 1953 and kept everything going until the last ore body gave out in 1978.

The present architecture reflects many of the buildings that were constructed during Telluride's days as a gold mining Mecca. The boarding houses, warehouse district, railroad depot, gambling halls, bath houses and crib houses attest to the rough and rugged past of this gorgeous mountain oasis.

Since 1972, the Telluride Ski & Golf Company has built one of the best visitor-friendly golf and ski resorts in the world. Summertime is filled with Bluegrass, Jazz, Chamber, Rock 'n Roll and other music festivals. There are also Wild West and Tech fests, foot races and craft shows happening all summer, earning Telluride the moniker of "Festival Capital of Colorado." Winter brings on the downhill skiing, snowboarding, Nordic skiing, tubing, ice skating, ice climbing and fishing... the list is long.

One of the early mercantiles in the San Miguel Valley
Some of the buildings were here long before the ski slopes
A long shot showing the mountains that surround most of Telluride
Telluride is almost completely surrounded by mountains
The Sans Souci Bed and Breakfast in Telluride
The Sans Souci Bed & Breakfast in Telluride
The old Elks Lodge
The old Elks Lodge
The new Elks Lodge
The new Elks Lodge (on the left)
Ski slopes come right to the edge of town
Telluride is in a narrow canyon with the ski slopes coming right to the south edge of town
The New Sheridan Hotel
The New Sheridan Hotel in downtown Telluride
Photos are courtesy of TheArmchairExplorer, CCA-by-SA 4.0 License