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The History of Durango Colorado

HomeDurango Visitors GuideThe History of Durango Colorado

Durango, Colorado is known and loved as an inviting vacation destination by travelers from across the map. Visitors are drawn here in the name of amazing outdoor recreation, a sensational culinary scene, and the shopping, exploring, and museum-hopping to match. That said, Durango is also a place rich in history with a vast story to tell. The following is a brief look back at the events that made the city of Durango what it is today. Read below for more information on the history of Durango, Colorado.

The Area’s Ancient Past

Durango’s history is one that dates back thousands of years to a time when Native tribes inhabited the banks of the lush Animas River. Experts believe these areas were home to indigenous groups as far back as 1,200 years ago. When Ancestral Puebloans mysteriously abandoned the area and their cliffside dwellings, the Ute tribe moved in and made the most of the area’s rich fishing and hunting opportunities. Spanish explorers arrived in the area by 1776 and began to change the landscape with settlements of their own.

An Era of Mining

By 1860, hundreds of gold miners arrived in the Durango area with the promise of riches waiting just below the surface of the terrain. By 1880, the population here reached 2,400 and counting. This same year also saw the formation of the Denver and rio Grande Railroad Company along the Animas River. A depot was established in Durango and trains served the greater San Juan mining district.

Turn of the Century Changes

As the local population grew, so did the appeal of Durango as a vacation destination at the turn of the century. The San Juan National Forest was established in 1905 with Mesa Verde National Park following in 1906. Both were big draws for those looking to explore new places in the name of recreation. By 1910, Durango’s population was sitting at around 4,686 residents. An area airport, Fort Lewis College and Purgatory Durango Mountain Resort were all opened for business by 1965 establishing Durango as a place guests could flock to from across the country in the name of fun, education, and outdoor thrills.

Durango Today

In modern Durango, guests will find a destination that thrives on recreation, natural resources, tourism, business, and education alike. While Durango is packed with modern marvels for visitors to enjoy, history still plays a large part in the appeal. The balance makes Durango a one-of-a-kind destination with every visit. Don’t forget to check out the must see in Durango, CO – the treasured train and more.

Must See in Durango, CO

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