Telluride History: A Brief, Enrapturing Tale

Telluride is a wonderful town full of mountain ranges, adventure, and history at every turn. The area has so much to offer its visitors and has been gifting excitement to the world since its founding. This brief history of telluride explores what makes this stunning town so fascinating and popular.

Telluride History Origins: Ute American Indians

Long before Telluride was Telluride, it was the adored home of the Ute tribe. The San Miguel river and an abundance of wildlife were their sustaining sources. The people of this tribe recognized the unearthly beauty of the area and called it the “Valley of Hanging Waterfalls.” They resided peacefully and undisturbed until the 1700s.

Spanish Explorers

The Spanish made their way north through Mexico and New Mexico in the late 1700s. That’s when they took note of the unbelievable beauty of the lower Rocky Mountains, naming them the San Juan Mountains. The explorers then displaced the Ute tribe and drove the beaver population into near extinction as they grew encapsulated by their pelts.

Telluride History: Mining Extravaganza

After the explorers took over the area, the mining industry started its boom across the country. But the first miners didn’t strike gold until 1875, twenty-six years after Nevada City began mining. Amazingly enough, the first gold claim also included silver, lead, zinc, and copper. In 1887, as mining continued to take over the area, Telluride became the official name of the town.

As a result of the mining extravaganza, Telluride quickly expanded and grew more prosperous; it had its own bank, hotel, opera house, and several saloons. Such success was constant—at the time, Telluride boasted more millionaires per capita than New York City.

Mining Collapse

Like many other mining towns, the success didn’t last forever. Around 1950, after World War I and the crash of silver prices, people started leaving the area. In fact, by the 1960s, beautiful Telluride was nothing but a ghost town with less than 600 residents.

Telluride History Reinvention

In the early 1970s, Telluride reinvented itself with its abundance of white gold—snow. A small group of locals later built the first iteration of a ski resort, thus shaping the city’s new economy. In 1978, two Colorado natives then assumed control of the ski area and brought their vision to life. They created a resort village with first-class, year-round skiing. Snowmaking equipment, lifts, and beginner terrain were just a few of the amenities. In 1996, Telluride linked itself to the high-altitude town of Mountain Village via the first enclosed lift in North America.

Today, Telluride keeps its history in its practices, striving for authenticity over ostentation. The city is more than just mountains. Stunning views and experiences await around each corner—check out these wonderful Telluride vacation rentals to experience the beauty and history in person.


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