The San Juan mountains are criss-crossed with mining claims, tunnels and trails. The intrepid folks who mined these mountains were incredibly industrious and inventive. Think about how easy it is to haul stuff around today, then look at what these people did with little more than mules. They hauled up find heavy equipment tp the mines, iron cook stoves to the boarding houses, ornate bars to the bordellos and gaming salons—all of it transported by two- and four-foot motive power. And rail, when the trains came. They built mills, mines, boarding houses (some with entertainment and dining halls!), and even entire towns, many at impossible heights. They built tram systems to carry ore out and men and supplies in. A few brave souls even lived up here year round. When the towns burned—fire was common—they built it again. And to haul the ore out, and supplies and people to serve the ines, they built four railroads and laid rail to the tallest town, Animas Forks—above 12,000 feet! And they did this without filing and waiting for permits. What needed to be gone got done, as quickly and possible. It was a different world back then.
See how they did it. Kate Burke, author and publisher of magazines and books on railroad and mining history, and Gail Saunders, archivist with the Ouray County HIstorical Society present a mesmerizing
“then and now” on-screen program of rare historical photos combined with fascinating video footage, while they share their stories of the old mining days and railroads that chugged up these mountains.