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Ouray in Ouray County, Colorado — The American Mountains (Southwest)
 

San Juan Travel

 
 
San Juan Travel Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By James Hulse, July 9, 2021
1. San Juan Travel Marker
Inscription.  The San Juan Mountains have long posed a barrier to travel and, by extension, to economic development. Early miners had to transport ore via pack animals over rocky trails, a process so inefficient that it rendered many claims unworkable. Matters improved after 1877, when master road-builder Otto Mears opened the first of three wagon roads through the San Juans; but the region's remoteness, difficult terrain, and unpredictable weather continued to drive up freight costs, making mine development unattractive. In 1889 Mears completed the Silverton Railway's route to the mining district, the area's first truly economical shipping option, and Mears's wagon roads were paved into highways in the 1920s (including present-day U.S. 550, the "Million Dollar Highway"). But despite all these improvements, transportation remained a barrier to prosperity. Today, ironically, the old rocky mining trails are important regional economic assets, drawing tourists who seek to explore the San Juan ghost towns.

Captions
Lower Left: Otto Mears, the "Pathfinder of the San Juans," points out the grandeur of his Silverton & Red Mountain
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Railroad to an admirer in 1888.
Courtesy Denver Public Library Western History Collection

Center: The construction of toll roads and railroads made travel between towns easier and safer. Nevertheless, sturdy mules and burros continued to offer the most reliable form of transportation over winding mountain trails to distant mines and homesteads.
Colorado Historical Society
Upper Right: Photographers like William Henry Jackson could not resist the spectacular views that Otto Mears's Ouray Toll Road offered travelers in the late nineteenth century. These spectacular and at times nerve-wracking views can still be experienced today on the Million Dollar Highway that follows many of the early toll ways.
Colorado Historical Society
Lower Right: Background; In addition to steep grades and dangerous curves, mountain weather also presented a formidable obstacle to travelers. Inclement weather could descend at any time, as in this July 1897 snowfall in Ouray.
Colorado Historical Society
 
Erected 2003 by Colorado Historical Society and Colorado Department of Transportation.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & CommerceRailroads & StreetcarsRoads & Vehicles. A significant historical year for this entry is 1877.
 
Location.
The San Juan Travel Marker is the marker on the left of the two markers image. Click for full size.
Photographed By James Hulse, July 9, 2021
2. The San Juan Travel Marker is the marker on the left of the two markers
38° 1′ N, 107° 40.249′ W. Marker is in Ouray, Colorado, in Ouray County. Marker is on Million Dollar Highway (U.S. 550) 0.1 miles south of County Highway 16, on the left when traveling north. The marker is located along US 550 Highway at a Switzerland of America Lookout Point. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Ouray CO 81427, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Untold Stories (here, next to this marker); Preserving the Past (here, next to this marker); Ouray Elks Lodge (approx. 0.3 miles away); Beaumont Restoration (approx. 0.4 miles away); It's Our Fault (approx. 0.4 miles away); This Marker in Memory of Rev. Marvin Hudson (approx. 3.4 miles away); Larson Brothers Mine (approx. 5.4 miles away); Ute Homeland (approx. 5˝ miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Ouray.
 
The view of the Colorado State Historical Markers from the highway image. Click for full size.
Photographed By James Hulse, July 9, 2021
3. The view of the Colorado State Historical Markers from the highway
The view of Ouray from the marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By James Hulse, July 9, 2021
4. The view of Ouray from the marker
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on November 27, 2021. It was originally submitted on November 27, 2021, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas. This page has been viewed 115 times since then and 4 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on November 27, 2021, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas.

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Mar. 1, 2024