Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Silverton and Durango

Coming into Silverton we could see the denuded spots on the hills off in the distance where hard rock mining had taken place in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Our train ranger commented that there had once been 2500 mines in the region.  It is the most mineralized country in our continent.  Mining in the San Juans was initially for gold, followed by silver.  Following those ores were the less common as lead, copper and zinc.  After WW11 the area experienced a decline in mining.  The last mine closed in 1991.  Source for some of this information was taken from America's Railroad  by Robert Roytem.
We had a two hour break before boarding the train again, to see the town of Silverton and eat lunch.  The main street is a paved highway, the rest are dirt roads.  It reminded us of some Alaskan towns we have seen.
The building on the left side of the picture with a dome is the old courthouse built around 1902.  We ate lunch at the Pickel Barrel, one of the first commercial buildings in town, it was a store back in the 1800s.
And every mining town back in the 1800s had a red light district.  Silverton was no different, it had 32 saloons, gambling halls and houses of ill-repute.  The Shady Lady  was the last to close.
We happened to walk by a couple of Silverton's small parks.  One, Harmony Park, has bells and chimes which the passer-by can play.  Another one is Columbine, named for the delicate pretty mountain flower.
We returned from our train trip to Durango about 6:30 P.M., then took some time to explore that town.  It began as a mining and smelting center during the gold and silver booms.  It was also a Durango and Rio Grand Railway "company town" after it donated land for the railroad's station and yard facilities in 1880.   Pictured below is a street of the town, in the distance is the historic Victorian Strater Hotel.   It is the red brick building with white trim, quite an elegant looking building and a prominent landmark for the town.

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