It’s hard to imagine that the bustling town of Telluride of today was once a lush valley used as a summer camp by Ute Indians before a mining boom drew fortune seekers to southwest Colorado in 1840. Back then, the verdant valley floor turned into a primitive tent colony on 25-foot lots – temporary homes for miners – as they sought to make a living extracting copper lead and zinc.
It seems like a romantic story from the past, but from 1870 to 1940, there was definitely “gold in them hills.” Miners were a tough lot, not afraid of the hard and hazardous work that brought them there, but looking up at the snow-covered San Juan mountains, a few realized there was also some fun in those hills…with skiing. In 1937, an enterprising local built a 300-foot rope tow above the beaver pond on the North facing slope, setting a concept in motion that would later define the entire region.
By the mid-1950s, Telluride faded back into a ghost town after rising costs, declining profits and the after effects of two World Wars. But the vision of the original hardscrabble miners who saw the snowy San Juan mountains as a ticket to their skiing dreams were becoming fully realized throughout the 1950s and 1960s as Colorado citizens began cutting out ski trails (some named after a few of the town’s more salacious citizens!), adding new electric-powered rope tow for the local kids and putting Telluride back on the map.
California resident Joe Zoline was the first to officially develop the Telluride Ski Area in 1972 with five chairlifts and a day lodge. Then, in the 1990s, with the nation’s first and free chondola (chairlift gondola), the area cemented itself as one of the most iconic skiing destinations around the world.
Back to Telluride’s cultural side. You can still see the Wild West, frontier spirit and hearty adventure woven into Telluride’s rich history, but it also has a thriving arts community and some of the most enviable outdoor festivals around. Now, part of the National Historic Landmark District, the town is a treasure trove of arts and cultural activity with the Telluride Arts District serving as the hub for artists, art walks, festivals and events. Then there’s the not-to-miss Telluride Historical Museum, reopening for the winter season Dec. 4, 2018. Along with 10 themed-rooms of exhibits dedicated to the area’s history and culture, they have some gems in their permanent collection, such as artifacts from an original mining camp. All this history comes to life on their Historical Walking Tours. In addition, you can even ski on one of their Ski Into History Tours.
Today, Telluride is one of the most alluring places in the United States to visit in the winter. For more great ideas on how to enjoy the area’s four seasons contact SilverStar Telluride Luxury Rentals at 970-728-3001.