Preserve America Community:
Silverton (population 531) was established in 1874 after a treaty with the Ute Indians opened it for prospecting. The rough frontier town initially served gold and silver miners, but it matured by the turn of the 20th century to include all the civic amenities of a thriving community.
Mining in the area reached its peak between 1900 and 1912, followed by a series of booms and busts that ended with the closure of the last local mine in 1992. The town then lost much of its population and the majority of its year-round jobs. But Silvertons scenic setting in the San Juan Mountains and its wealth of historic resources has made tourism a principal new economic generator.
Silverton is such a uniquely preserved example of a mining town that it has been declared a National Historic Landmark. Thousands of tourists come each year to view its historic resources and ride the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, also a National Historic Landmark.
To encourage new development that is compatible with Silvertons historic character, the town has developed a Builders Handbook that illustrates the communitys predominant architectural styles. Silverton is also undertaking a major redevelopment project at the 1906 Animas Light and Power Substation.
Aided by funds from the Economic Development Administration and other sources, the historic building is being adapted for use as a business incubator. The project will not only preserve another of Silvertons historic places, but will help to further diversify the communitys changing economy.
For more information
Town of Silverton/Silverton Chamber of Commerce: www.silvertoncolorado.com
San Juan County Historical Society: www.silvertonhistoricalsociety.org
Posted April 13, 2009