The town of Ouray is located in the San Juan mountains of Southwestern Colorado. Surrounding towns include Montrose, 40 miles ( 64 kilometers) north. Northeast is Telluride 10 miles ( 16 kilometers) Red mountain pass to the south connect Ouray and Silverton and Durango.
The town began with miners looking for gold and silver in the 1870’s. Current population is around 900. Originally established by miners chasing silver and gold in the surrounding mountains, the town at one time boasted more horses and mules than people. The town was incorporated in 1876. At one time in 1896, the town had the largest gold mine in Colorado. Called the Camp Bird mine, the mine produced 1.5 million troy ounces of gold an 4 million troy ounces of silver. The mines crusher was sold in 1995 to a mine in Mongolia and it is still in operation there today. The entrance to the mine can be seen on the 4 wheel drive tour near Yankee boy basin and Imogene pass.
The first railroad , the Denver and Rio Grande, arrived in 1887. The last passenger train left Ouray in September 1930 and rail passenger service ended after 43 years of use. Main street is listed as a historic location in the national register. It contains many historic buildings from the 1870’s.
Ouray calls itself the Switzerland of the west. In summer there are jeep expeditions into the neighboring San Juan mountains. The jeep expeditions go up Black Bear road. Singer and ex mayor C W McCall made the road famous in his song Black Bear Road. The road makes many twist and climbs an makes the 4 wheel drive tour a challenge.
Ouray is called the Winter ice climbing capital of the United States. Many falls along the Uncompahgre trail are turned into a winter ice wonderland with the help of an installed sprinkler system. There is an annual week long ice festival with climbers from around the world arriving to try their luck on the winter ice of the waterfalls.
The nearest airport is in Montrose which is 40 miles, ( 64 kilometers) to the north. US 550 is the one paved road into and out of Ouray. The stretch between Ouray and Singleton is known as the million dollar highway from all the gold and silver that traveled over it in mining days.
The 1969 movie “True Grit” starring John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn with Glen Cambell and Kim Darby was filmed in and around Ouray.
If you ever travel through the area on US 550 be sure and stop in Quray for a visit. There is even a hot springs pool in town for you to soak and relax.
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