Telluride Historic Sites
Museums and Historical Sites in Telluride
Let’s face it. Telluride wouldn’t exist without the silver boom that ricocheted across Colorado in the 19th century. Originally named Columbia, the rugged mining camp was established in 1878, saloons, brothels and all. While mining operations drastically declined after the turn of the century, Telluride’s extraction industry finally came to a complete close in 1970.
Most of the mining sites that remain in the basins above the box canyon as well as the valleys around it, were constructed before 1920. Many are easy to access right off the highway, while others require high clearance 4WD with an experienced driver to match.
No matter how motivated you are to experience Telluride’s colorful history, there’s a site within reach. Now go on and learn somethin’!
This mighty little museum (originally built in 1896 as a hospital) provides a fabulous assortment of exhibits covering the whole shabang of Telluride’s rich and wild history.
From 900-year-old indigenous blankets, to audacious mining stories, and the festivals that made Telluride the destination it is today, you’ll get the full and fascinating history of this rugged mountain town.
Location: 201 W Gregory Ave, Telluride, CO
The Alta ghost town is especially historic not only for the mining operations in Gold King Basin that began here in 1877, but for premiering Nikola Tesla’s alternating current electricity transmission systems.
Today, around 20 buildings remain from Alta’s glory days as a top producing mine in the district until WWII. For a wonderful synopsis of the area’s history, check out Ghost Towns: Alta, Colorado
Location: Alta Lakes Road, 4 miles from the turnoff from CO 145. High clearance, 4WD required.
Rio Grande Southern Bridge
The Rio Grande Southern Railroad was pivotal in the development of southwest Colorado’s mining industry. Many of the tracks between Telluride and its high country mines are gone, but the picturesque, century old bridge near Trout Lake remains wonderfully intact.
More more on the amazing history of the Rio Grande Southern Railroad, visit here.
Location: Trout Lake Road, southeast side of Trout Lake
Tomboy Mine and Camp Bird Mine
The Tomboy and Camp Bird mines are about 2 miles apart on the Imogen Mountain Pass. The two were among the richest mines in Colorado history.
The Tomboy mine is impeccably preserved despite the harsh elements it’s withstood at 11,500 feet for more than a century. Tomboy was founded in 1894, and became so wealthy, it hosted a bowling alley and dance hall, on top of its many other amenities.
Camp Bird, founded in 1896, was one of the biggest and baddest mining hubs not only for production, but worker conditions in Colorado. While the basin was thoroughly cleared out throughout the years, some of the remaining structures include worker housing and a superintendent office.
Location: Imogen Pass, 6 miles up Tomboy Road from Telluride. You’ll need a 4WD, high clearance vehicle to make it here, along with some off-roading experience for the exciting journey to this site.
Complete Telluride Planning Resources
Plan Your Trip
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