A Rich History Founded In Gold And Silver.
Originally, Durango was founded by The Denver & Rio Grande RR Company in 1880 to serve the San Juan Mining District, where silver and gold was being discovered in the mountains.
The name, “Durango,” was taken from Durango, Mexico, when Colorado’s former territorial governor was traveling through and thought the area looked similar to his hometown in the Colorado Territory. Ancestral Puebloans have been living in this region for over 1200 years in the cliff dwellings now preserved at Mesa Verde National Park and later, the Ute Indians settled along the Animas River. There was plenty of hunting and fishing as well as shelter in the abandoned dwellings left by the Anasazi.
By 1900, Durango had already become a vacation destination with the creation of the San Juan National Forest and Mesa Verde National Park. Today, the town is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts and historians alike as well as Hollywood moviemakers who have used the area for such films as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
The entire region embraces it’s long western history with recreational amenities and businesses fostering its mining and cowboy past by preserving buildings and other culturally important remnants of historic architecture and infrastructure. The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, the General Palmer and Strater hotels are wonderful examples of why downtown Durango is a Nationally Registered Historic District.