Learn About the Rich History of Telluride, Colorado

Telluride mining equipment

Those looking for an amazing all-season resort town need look no further than beautiful Telluride, Colorado. Nestled securely in a box canyon and surrounded by the magnificent San Juan Mountains, Telluride offers the finest skiing during every winter season and activities that include river rafting and tubing, mountain hiking and biking, fishing and other water activities and wonderful sightseeing opportunities throughout the year. The area attracts couples who are looking for a romantic adventure, families vacationing with children and Hollywood’s biggest stars, but Telluride hasn’t always been the bubbly resort town that it is today.

Telluride Beginnings

Like many other towns that were developed in the notorious days of the Wild West, Telluride began life as a mining town that first saw the glorious discovery of gold in 1875. Even with that wonderful event, it took a long time for the town to grow due to its extremely secluded location. Only the most devoted miners could make their way to Telluride by crossing the often-treacherous mountains by means of pack mules until a toll road was built that allowed wagons to travel to the town in 1881.

Bridal Veil Falls in Telluride

By the time that the railroad came to town in the early 1890s, Telluride had become home to around 5,000 residents who all supported the mining town in some way. Many of these new residents were made up of immigrants from China, Italy, France, Germany, Ireland, Finland and Sweden. Those who weren’t seeking their fortunes through actual mining opened establishments that included bath houses, lumber yards, hardware stores, saloons that guaranteed regular gun fights, gambling rooms and a booming red light district.

Fun Facts and Other Tidbits About the History of Telluride

  • A Misnamed Town: In 1887, the town changed its name from Columbia to Telluride, which meant that it was named after a chemical element known as tellurium that forms telluride ores of gold and silver. Unfortunately, those types of minerals were never successfully mined in Telluride, though the town did do extremely well in the mining of silver and gold in other forms along with copper, lead and zinc. Others claim the name is actually a derivative of the popular phrase, “To Hell You Ride,” which was used to send hopeful miners on their way to seek their fortunes.
  • Famous Bank Robbery: The successful mining in Telluride proved to be too much temptation for the notorious outlaw Butch Cassidy to ignore. He and his gang successfully robbed the San Miguel National Bank in downtown Telluride in 1889, and they made off with a whopping $24,000 that was meant for the mining payroll.
Bank on Main Street in Telluride
  • Power Pioneers:In the 1890s, Telluride became the very first town in the entire country to utilize alternating current electric power to bring light to their homes and businesses
  • Early Inhabitants: Before Telluride became an official town, it housed some important early settlers. The Native American Ute tribe were the earliest-known inhabitants of the area, and they made their home along the San Miguel River where wild game was plentiful. The Ute referred to the area as, “The Valley of Hanging Waterfalls,” and they were able to keep this paradise to themselves until the late 1700s when Spanish explorers showed up. The Spanish stayed long enough to give the San Juan Mountains their name and almost completely deplete the beaver population for the popular pelts.
Ute Native American tribe markings

Enjoy History During Your Visit

There are still several sites, activities and attractions that will give you a taste of Telluride history during your visit.

Come Stay With Us

Regardless of the time of the year that you can get away, you will find much to see and do in Telluride. Come this fall to see Mother Nature paint the area in her many amazing fall colors, hit the slopes in the winter, enjoy rafting on the river in the spring or stay for the summer to enjoy all of our wonderful festivals. Whenever you’re ready to visit, just let us know here at Telluride Vacation Rentals, and we will help you select the perfect luxury home or condo for your stay.

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