Silverton, Colorado: A Photo Essay

This past summer, my family took a trip to Silverton, Colorado, a beautiful mountain town of only about 600 year-round citizens. We may have taken the trip for the amazingly gorgeous landscape, but the more I looked into it, Silverton is way more fascinating than what meets the eye.

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Silverton, Colorado: A Photo Essay

Noah Sweet, Copy Editor

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The cabins above are prospector cabins located in Minnie Gulch, located north of Silverton. The cabin on the left was smaller and more intact than the one on the right, in fact there were still furniture pieces inside this prospector’s cabin. The home on the right was elaborate and featured two stories and multiple rooms.














These are all pictures of the mine which is located in Maggie Gulch, located just north of Silverton. The entrance to the mine (left) was caving in, and many of the support logs were rotted out. Many mines had smelters (center) on-site to make the ores easier to process. The steam powered mechanism (right) was used to help pull mine carts in and out of the mine.


Before the town of Silverton was founded, it served as a hunting ground and a settlement for the Ute Tribe of Colorado. In the late 1860’s, gold and silver was discovered in the nearby Animas City, now Durango, Colorado. This discovery drove prospectors to travel north up the Animas River Valley, they arrived in a valley that was rich in many different metals, including gold, silver, iron, and any more elements that would bring profit to these men. Soon after the prospectors arrived, companies began moving into the mountains to expand their silver empire. Many of the mines in the area, such as the one above, have been long-since abandoned, but in the late 1800’s were very profitable. In fact, the immense profit that entered the area at this time, was how the town got its name, “They are shipping silver out by the ton.”

There are many historic buildings throughout the town of Silverton, such as the two above. On the left, The Shady Lady Saloon is located on infamous Blair Street, a boulevard that was notorious for its brothels and saloons. On the right, the San Juan County Courthouse, which was built at Silverton’s peak in the late 1800s, still serves San Juan County today. In the background of both, beautiful Kendall Mountain is visible.


Silverton was known throughout the west for its many brothels and saloons that populated many of the streets in the town. Though these were everywhere throughout the town, Blair Street was infamous for how many brothels were located on the street. At Silverton’s peak population, there were over 20 brothels on Blair Street alone.


Throughout the town, many buildings may stick out to those driving through. Buildings such as the courthouse above tower over the other buildings in the area and announce their importance to the common tourist. Another building that allows its presence to be known is the Grand Imperial Hotel, a hotel that served as home for many prospectors before they either built their cabins or had to leave because they never found silver.


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