December 11, 2017

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Silverton, Colorado

SnowSilverton was first settled by the Ute Indians who hunted and lived in the area during the summers prior to the first explorers arriving. Although Charles Baker and other prospectors discovered the area around 1860, it wasn’t until after the Brunot Treaty was signed in 1874 that miners began settling the area to make their fortune through gold and silver. The town’s population quickly grew to 500 by 1876 and during the mid 1880s large numbers of settlers from Europe began to arrive.

The Congregational Church, which is still in use today, was dedicated in 1881 and in July 1882, the first train operated by the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad rolled into town from Durango. By 1883, Silverton boasted a population of 2,000 as well as 400 buildings: 2 banks, 5 laundries, 29 saloons, several hotels and a red light district known as Notorious Blair Street.

From early on, men brought their families to Silverton, providing an incentive for the town to keep parts of Silverton respectable. From the start, an imaginary line ran down Greene Street the dividing the law-abiding, church-going residents from the gamblers, prostitutes, variety theatres, dance halls and saloons. In 1883, 117 indictments were brought against ‘lewd women’ on Notorious Blair Street by a grand jury. Fines were imposed, but gambling and prostitution were accepted as long as they didn’t move into the ‘respectable’ parts of town.

By the early 1900s, most mining in the area closed down, partly due to the fact that the worldwide flu epidemic in 1918 devastated Silverton…more than 150 people (10 percent of the population) died within a three week period during October and November. Much later, in the 1950s, Hollywood came to Silverton and shot a number of films such as Ticket to Tomahawk, Night Passage, and Maverick Queen.

Today, Silverton is one of Colorado’s less well-known gems boasting the world famous Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Train, which brings thousands of visitors to Silverton during the summer. Travelers along Highway 550 also stop in town to experience the breathtaking San Juan Mountains and quaint town.

Attractions:

Silverton offers numerous attractions to explore in addition to the train. Take a mining tour at Mayflower Gold Mill or Old Hundred Gold Mine and see what it was like to hunt for treasure and how these ores were processed. Visit the Mining Heritage Center and explore three floors of exhibits, the jail’s original four-cell block built in 1902, as well as mining artifacts and a mineral display.

During the summer, experience the Wild West with staged gunfights on 12th and Blair Streets. Other attractions include productions by A Theater Group, Bar D Chuckwagon Suppers, the Silverton Brass Band, Stage Coach rides and the Christ of the Mines Shrine.

Dining:

You’ll find a variety of dining experiences in Silverton from Barbeque, Mexican, and Pizza/Italian to Chuckwagon dinners, Vegetarian and Organic cuisine. A few establishments you might want to check out include: The Bent Elbow Hotel and Restaurant (which takes you back in time to Silverton’s rowdier days), the Grand Imperial Hotel and Grumpy’s Restaurant (located just steps from the train), Handlebars Food and Saloon (a 1800’s restaurant and saloon), High Noon Hamburgers (family owned since 1969), Mother Kluckers (Silverton’s only Sports Pub and Broastery), Natalia’s 1912 Restaurant, The Pickle Barrel Restaurant, the Brown Bear Café and Thee Pitt’s Again

Nightlife:

You won’t find big city lights in Silverton, but you will find a small town atmosphere where you can mingle with the locals.\

Shopping:

You’ll find a variety of shops where you can find collectibles, leather goods and unique gifts to take home. Discover Native American jewelry, antiques, local art, souvenirs, hand-woven clothing, candles and soaps, pottery, art, baskets, model trains and even have an olde tyme souvenir photo taken.

Plan Your Silverton Vacation