“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Silverton in San Juan County, Colorado — The American Mountains (Southwest)



Silverton Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By James Hulse, July 6, 2021
1. Silverton Marker

"One feels," wrote an early Silverton settler, "as if he is shut off from the rest of the world." A fair assessment: In 1874, when its first buildings appeared, the hamlet lay 125 miles from the nearest post office. Though railroad service commenced in 1882, snowdrifts often blocked the tracks for weeks on end. To compound the isolation, Silverton's climate and topography made farming almost impossible, leaving residents basically dependent on food shipped from elsewhere. But the area's rich mineral deposits - not just gold and silver but also iron, lead, zinc, and copper - assured Silverton's prosperity for many decades. Over time, ironically, remoteness proved to be an asset; it preserved the town's scenery and Victorian character, spurring a robust tourist industry in the mid-twentieth century. One might still feel shut off from the world here - but now that's part of the attraction.

Flu Epidemic of 1918
The influenza epidemic of 1918 killed 600,000 Americans, but few communities suffered as Silverton did. The virus appeared here in mid-October, and for the next terrifying month the streets stood abandoned;
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schools and businesses shut down, and residents locked themselves in their homes. Despite these precautions, three in four people got sick, and one in ten died - perhaps the nation's highest fatality rate. Patients overwhelmed the hospital and filled makeshift wards in Town Hall. Silverton's undertaker and one of its nurses died; people healthy enough to flee the contagion were turned back at Ouray by armed patrols. In December the scourge finally departed, but the ensuing years brought hard times. Silverton's mining industry faltered after World War I (which ended during the epidemic), crippling the local economy. It would take decades for the town to recover.

1. Tremont Saloon and Brothel owner Celeste Fatore and his wife (the madam and bouncer), Big Tillie, stand at far left, 1920s. For many years, Silverton men far outnumbered women and a proliferation of saloons und bordellos sprouted along Blair Street to keep lonely miners company.
Colorado Historical Society
2. Silverton Standard pressroom, about 1910. John R. Curry published Silverton's first newspaper, the La Plata Miner, in 1875. In the 1880s and 1890s, thirteen other papers arose to compete. To survive, the Miner merged with the Standard, and today the Silverton Standard and The Miner is western Colorado's oldest continuous business and newspaper.
Courtesy Denver Public
The Silverton Marker is the marker on the left of the two panels image. Click for full size.
Photographed By James Hulse, July 6, 2021
2. The Silverton Marker is the marker on the left of the two panels
Library, Western History Collection
3. Silverton Weekly Miner, November 1, 1918 - the height of the flu epidemic.
Colorado Historical Society
4. Courtesy Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

Erected 2002 by Colorado Historical Society and Colorado Department of Transportation.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: DisastersIndustry & CommerceRailroads & Streetcars. A significant historical year for this entry is 1874.
Location. 37° 48.293′ N, 107° 40.561′ W. Marker is in Silverton, Colorado, in San Juan County. Marker is on U.S. 550, 0.1 miles west of County Highway 31, on the left when traveling east. The marker is part of a group of four historical panels by the side of the road. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Silverton CO 81433, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Hard Rock Resiliency (here, next to this marker); Rails Into the San Juans (here, next to this marker); Swivel End-Dump Car (approx. 0.3 miles away); Shaft "Can" Skip (approx. 0.3 miles away); Silver By The Ton (approx. 0.3 miles away); Silverton's Railroads (approx. 0.3 miles away); 1060 Reese (approx. 0.7 miles away); 1069 Greene (approx. 0.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Silverton.
The view of the marker (reverse side) and Silverton image. Click for full size.
Photographed By James Hulse, July 6, 2021
3. The view of the marker (reverse side) and Silverton
Credits. This page was last revised on July 17, 2021. It was originally submitted on July 17, 2021, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas. This page has been viewed 169 times since then and 12 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on July 17, 2021, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas.

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Sep. 28, 2023