Silverton, Colorado – Tiny . . . but Tough!
[May 2019 | San Juan Silver Stage | By Kathryn R. Burke]
Silverton may be a tiny town, but it’s big when it comes to ‘tough’. A long history of boom and bust has plagued Silverton since the mining days in the 1800s. That story is well-documented in the locations and entities operated by the Historical Society: the Mining Heritage Center; the 1902 County Jail Museum; the Mayflower Mill Tour; the Allen Nossaman Memorial Archive; the Silverton Power Station; and the Silverton Standard and the Miner Newspaper (designated a National Historic Site in Journalism).
More recently, the town faced another ‘bust’ and struggled mightily when it was surrounded by forest fires, and then was nearly inaccessible (from the south) due to floods and mudslides resulting from fire-caused, ecological damage. Tourism, not mining, now supports the tiny town, and the visitors couldn’t get there.
Due to its remote location, people come to town by vehicle, over highways which were often closed, or by the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, which steams into town daily during tourist season, May through mid-October. But that couldn’t happen with rails and roads blocked by natural disasters. Then, this past winter, the town again was often inaccessible—because of heavy snow and avalanches.
But the tough, tiny town kept on going! Business suffered, but they stayed open. Folks shoveled their way to the bank or grocery store, and stuck it out where others would have fled.
And now, spring has sprung, snows are melting, roads are open again. The train made its first appearance of the season May 4th, bringing hungry visitors ready to patronize local restaurants and do a little souvenir shopping. It’s boom time again in this tiny town!
Image Credits: Downtown Silverton, Carolyn Wilcox.
Middle: Handlebars, Carolyn Wilcox.
Bottom: First train of the 2019 season, Laurie Casselberry.