Telluride Mountains

The History of Telluride, Colorado

Telluride's History

Telluride, Colorado is a historic town nestled in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. Founded in the late 1800s, Telluride was a booming mining town during the Colorado Gold Rush. Today, it's a popular tourist destination known for its skiing, outdoor activities, and stunning mountain views. Not only known for its world-class skiing and outdoor pursuits, Telluride is also a top spot for foodies and fashionistas from the world over. In this article, we'll explore the history of Telluride and how it has evolved into the charming town it is today.


Early History of Telluride

An early home of the Ute Native Americans, Telluride was once known as the "Valley of Hanging Waterfalls". When the Spanish and other European settlers arrived in the early 1700s, the town became known as Columbia, CO. This name was deemed too confusing by the USPS due to a more established town of the same name in California.

This led to the naming of the town to Telluride in 1887. Some attribute the new name to the Periodic Table and the many minerals found in the area. Others, tell of miners yelling out to those heading up to the town, "To hell, you ride"! We're going to go with the latter explanation.

telluride history

The Colorado Gold Rush

It wasn't until well after the Gold Rush began in Nevada City in 1849, that miners in Telluride finally struck gold. In fact, it wasn't until 1875 that anyone struck gold in Telluride. The first vein from the mountain included gold, zinc, lead, copper, and silver. Because of the thriving mines, transportation between mountain towns like Telluride, Ouray, and Durango was frequent and provided by the railroad.

As the silver market decreased and profits weren't as plentiful, the rail cars were replaced by the Galloping Goose cars. These reconfigured Buicks were popular and in use until the 1950s. The gold rush was an exciting era for this tiny mountain town, but by the 1950s, it wasn't clear if Telluride would ever come back from its ghost town status.


The Decline and Revival of Telluride

The mining boom lasted for decades, but by the 1950s, the mining era had come to an end. By the 1960s, Telluride was practically a ghost town, with as few as 600 residents at one time. At this point, it was do or die for this shadow of its boom town self. Fortunately, a couple of enterprising locals saw the future skiing mecca that the town would soon become. The dream began in the late 60s and soon became reality.

History of Telluride Ski Resort

The vast Telluride ski resort history and lore are rich in details that date back to the 1970s. After nearly a decade of decline, the locals' dream of rebirth came to life in the 1970s. Today, Telluride is a favorite destination for people all over the world. Skiing is just the beginning of the many outdoor opportunities that are available for visitors and residents alike.

After the ski resort was established in 1972, the area soon grew in artistic and cultural areas as well. Artist communities sprung up surrounding the ski area. Cultural events, such as dance and performing arts, made Telluride a year-round destination. Soon, artists, athletes, and aesthetes flocked to this beautiful mountain hamlet.


Telluride’s Historical Museum

For those looking to dive even deeper into the history of Telluride, the Telluride History Museum is a must-visit. Located at 201 W Gregory Ave, Telluride, CO 81435, the museum is housed in the historic Hanley Building, which was once a hospital and now serves as a cultural hub for the community.

The museum offers a fascinating look at the town's rich history through a variety of exhibits, artifacts, and interactive displays. Visitors can learn about the Ute Native Americans who once inhabited the area, the mining boom that brought settlers to the town, and the colorful characters who have shaped its past.

One popular exhibit is the "Faces of Telluride," which features photographs and stories of the town's residents throughout the years. Another exhibit explores the role of skiing in the town's history, from the early days of ski jumping to the development of world-class ski resorts.

The museum is open year-round and offers guided tours as well as educational programs and events for all ages. For more information, visitors can contact the museum at (970) 728-3344 or visit their website at A visit to the Telluride Historical Museum is a great way to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of this fascinating town's past.

Telluride History Museum

Put a Visit to the Museum on Your Must-Do List

If you're planning a trip to Telluride, make sure to add the Telluride History Museum to your itinerary to learn about the town's rich and fascinating history. From the early days of mining to its modern-day status as a premier ski resort and cultural destination, Telluride has a unique story to tell. Contact the museum at (970) 728-3344 or visit their website at to plan your visit and discover the hidden gems of this charming town.


Telluride's Waiting for You

Telluride, Colorado has a rich and fascinating history that has shaped its identity as a unique and vibrant town. From its mining roots to its modern-day status as a premier ski resort and cultural destination, Telluride has something to offer everyone. By understanding the town's history, visitors can gain a deeper appreciation for its beauty and character.

Take the Next Step!

Ready to experience the charm of Telluride for yourself? Contact us today to learn more about this fascinating town or to rent a home for your next adventure. Our team is dedicated to helping you make the most of your Telluride experience, from exploring its rich history to hitting the slopes or hiking the stunning mountain trails. Don't miss out on the opportunity to discover all that Telluride has to offer! Learn more about some of the best vacation rental options in Telluride for your upcoming vacation.