OURAY COUNTY… IS ALL ABOUT LIFESTYLE!
The town of Ridgway Colorado is situated in the fertile flood plain of the Uncompahgre River at the junction of the two breathtakingly beautiful mountain valleys stretching to the east and west of town. At an elevation of 6,983 feet, Ridgway is known as the Gateway to the San Juan Mountains. The town is also situated at the junction of Colorado Highway 62 leading over Dallas Divide to the west toward Telluride and U.S. Highway 550 south to Ouray, Silverton and Durango. These highways join to form a circular loop through the area designated the San Juan Skyway.
The valley, in which Ridgway nestles was first occupied by the Ute Indians, who were forced to move over when precious metals were discovered in the San Juans. With the arrival of the Rio Grande Southern, the last major narrow gauge railroad line built in Colorado, the town began to boom with building lots selling for up to $500. The town got off to a fast start as construction workers and railroad people moved in and speculators invested in building lots. Despite a serious depression in silver prices, in 1893 , which put Mears’ new railroad into receivership and finally into the hands of the Denver and Rio Grande, Ridgway maintained momentum. By the turn of the century it was experiencing heavy railroad traffic with the mines of the region and with the flourishing cattle and sheep ranchers who brought their livestock down to loading pens along the railroad line for shipping to distant markets.
The town also served as a social gathering place for the region, attracting trainloads of people from Ouray and Telluride for horse racing and rodeo events at the Ridgway Tract and Fairgrounds and to fancy balls at the 012 Room Mentone Hotel on Clinton Street. Dances and shows at the Sherbino theater were added when that building was completed in 1925. Ridgway remained a prosperous small town with ample commercial activity and retail business through the twenties.
Map of Ridgway
Like thousands of other small mountain communities in Colorado, Ouray started out as a mining town when gold and silver were discovered in 1875. Unlike others though, because of the majesty of the surrounding mountains, the cascading waterfalls and the natural hot springs, visitors flocked to Ouray as much for its beauty as the miners did for the riches they hoped they would find.
Prior to the discovery of precious minerals and the influx of miners, for centuries the Tabeguache Ute Indians migrated to this idyllic setting during the warm months, hunting the abundant game and soaking in the magical hot springs water. They worshiped this spectacular valley, referring to it as their sacred place. Little is left of their visits, only the name, Ouray in honor of their famous chief who was instrumental in keeping peace between the Ute Indians and the many settlers.
Once the City of Ouray was founded, the town soon had more horses, mules, and burros than people as the feverish activity of searching for gold, silver and other metals flourished. Within four years of its founding, the area around Ouray had over 30 active mines. Along with the extraction of the metals, developed a booming support industry to supply the operations' needs.
Buildings of all sorts sprang up on what was to become Main Street, many of which are still occupied. From the restored Beaumont Hotel (built 1886) and St. Elmo Hotel (1898), to the unrestored Livery Barn (1883) or the Western Hotel (1881), Ouray presents an abundance of old Victorian architecture to fascinate one's fertile imagination. On the side streets, classic examples of Victorian homes abound, most of them in beautifully-restored condition. In 1983, the City of Ouray was honored to be named as a National Historic District by both the Colorado and National Historic Authorities.
Map of Ouray
Map of Colorado
If you are looking for a healthy lifestyle in one of the most beautiful, unspoiled spots in America… give us a call at 1-800-530-8791.