A Look at the History of Durango, CO

Discover the Past in Durango, ColoradoModern-day Durango is a city influenced by its history. Historic downtown Durango reflects the era of centuries ago, while there are many businesses, museums and art galleries dedicated to the stories of the native people who lived in the region for hundreds of years prior to European settlement. People who live in the city cherish its history, and those who are visiting are fascinated by the stories of the past.

Here is what everyone needs to know about the history of Durango, Colorado:

Native Tribes Were the First Inhabitants of the Region

The area that is considered Durango today as well as the surrounding region was first inhabited for thousands of years by native tribes. Some tribes who once inhabited Durango and heavily influenced the way of life in this community include the Pueblo, Ute and Navajo tribes. There is evidence of ancient stone cities as well as proof that these tribes were hunters and gatherers. Fortunately, some of their spiritual sites and ancient communities have been preserved for people to visit today. Both local residents and visitors can learn more about these ancient tribes at the Ute Mountain Tribal Park and Anasazi Heritage Center.

Spanish Explorers Were the First Europeans to Arrive in the Area

At the turn of the 17th century, Spanish explorers arrived in the Durango region and began to interact with the native tribes. Many of these explorers were missionaries hoping to spread Christianity throughout the land, while others were traders who wanted to swap goods with the native people. These explorers passed through the region for more than 150 years, but it was during the 19th century that European settlers began to set their sights on living in the area. The discovery of gold in the mountains led to a rush of miners to the area. This was when life in Durango began to change significantly.

The Railroad Shaped the Town of Durango

In the mid-19th century, a mining district had been developed in the region. By 1880, the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad Company decided to build a track in the region, and the shape of modern Durango was formed. The first building in the city was the train depot, and downtown Durango was quickly built around it. Before long, a narrow gauge rail track connected the mining town of Durango to the northern town of Silverton, which led to significant development. When the city was established in 1880, there was 2,400 residents. By 1910, nearly 4,700 people called Durango home.

Modern Durango Relies on Tourism

Today, the narrow gauge railway that first connected Durango to Silverton is still in operation. However, it is not used by miners trying to get back and forth, but rather by tourists who want to enjoy a peaceful ride through the mountains. Tourism is a prominent industry in Durango, and the community relies on its visitors to come back year after year. Downtown Durango is filled with hotels, restaurants and local shops. Many residents of Durango work in the tourism sector. Fortunately, the charming downtown area coupled with the breathtaking views of the Colorado mountains makes this city an eternally popular place for people to visit.

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