Early Beginnings...

Telluride has a deep and rich history spanning over centuries. Telluride and the surrounding area was originally used for centuries by the Ute Indians as a summer and hunting camp, traveling to higher elevation and cooler temperatures for the lighter summer months. Spanish explorers named the town Columbia in the 1700's. After strains of gold and silver were discovered in the late 1800's, Columbia - later named Telluride, turned into a booming mining camp in the 1870's. By 1878, Town of Telluride became a town and continued to grow with the mining industry and the arrival of the railroad in 1890.

By the end of the century in 1892, Telluride had over 90 businesses, including 3 hotels, 1 opera house, 26 saloons, 4 dance halls and 2 banks. The saloons were open 24 hours a day. A melting pot of immigrants seeking their fortune turned Telluride into a hopping town with over 5,000 residents.

The miners' lives were dangerous with many perishing from mining accidents, avalanches and illness. About 10% of Telluride's population succumbed to the Spanish flu in 1917! This is evident if you walk around at the Telluride cemetery - or why not take part in one of the historic tours organized by Telluride's Historical Museum?
Fun fact: Did you know Telluride's original hospital was in the building the museum is in now? They say it's haunted...

In 1890 miners earned $3/day minus $1/day for boarding for a 12-hour shift - that is about $50 net in today's wages.

When silver prices crashed in 1893 followed by WWI and later the 1929 stock market crash and Great Depression, the mining boom in Telluride collapsed. The population then dwindled from thousands to hundreds...

The Galloping Goose...

At the height of the booming mining era of the late 1800's, the Rio Grande Southern Railroad brought passengers and supplies through the rugged terrain of the San Juan mountains in Southwest Colorado, between Durango, Ouray and Telluride as well as points in between. When the silver market crashed, the larger trains were replaced by a gasoline engine rail bus called the Galloping Goose. The Goose fleet were in service, carrying mail, supplies and passengers, in the area until the 1950's.

The Galloping Goose car #4 is on display outside the San Miguel County Courthouse in downtown Telluride. In the winter it is moved to the Ridgway Railroad Museum.

A New Type Of Gold...

In the 1970's Telluride re-invented itself. In 1972, Joe Zoline opened the Telluride Ski Area with 5 lifts and a day lodge, situated primarily in what is Mountain Village today. Mountain Village was established as a town in 1995. It was also around this time that many of Telluride's festivals were established including the Telluride Bluegrass Festival and Telluride Film Festival, both which celebrated their 50th anniversaries in 2022.

In 1975 the Coonskin lift (lift #7) was installed, connecting the ski area to the Town of Telluride. In the early 1980's, Jim Wells and Ron Allred purchased the ski area from Zoline. In 1985 and 1986, the ski area saw the addition of 3 new chair lifts; Plunge lift (lift #9), Village Express (lift #4) and Oak Street lift (lift #8).

The 1990's was an exciting and significant time for the ski area. The Telluride Ski Area continued to grow with the installation of two revolutionary transportation systems; the Chondola and the Gondola. The chondola consists of both a chair lift and gondola cars and connects the Meadows area with the core of Mountain Village. The Telluride Gondola, which opened in 1996, is still the nation's first and only free transportation system of its kind - connecting the Town of Telluride with the Town of Mountain Village. Over 2.5 million people ride the Telluride Gondola each year!

Telluride Ski Resort Today...

Today the Telluride Ski Resort offers over 2,000 skiable acres and also offers varied terrain for beginners, intermediate and expert skiers. With the addition of the Prospect lift (lift #12) and Gold Hill Express (lift #14), as well as Revelation Bowl and lift #15, Telluride has, over the years, added exceptional hike-to-terrain in bounds, rivaling backcountry skiing. From more intermediate hike-to terrain from the Prospect lift to more challenging Palmyra Peak and Gold Hill chutes, Telluride has you covered for fresh tracks! The Plunge lift (lift #9) was also replaced with a highspeed quad chair lift in the 2022/2023 season. 

Did You Know?

Telluride was home to the world's first AC power plant?*

It was built in Ames in 1891 by Nikola Tesla. L.L Nunn, the manager of the Gold King mine, was looking for a more efficient and cheaper way to run his mining operation. He had heard of Tesla's recent discoveries of alternating currents of electricity. He reached out to Nikola Tesla and his partner, George Westinghouse, and together they built the Ames Power Plant near Telluride in 1891. This would become the world's first commercial AC power plant in history and down the line, Telluride would be the first town in the United States to be powered by AC electric power.

*Source: Telluride Ski Resort

Telluride is designated as a National Historic Landmark District?*

Due to its significant role in the history of the American West, Telluride was designated as a National Historic Landmark District in 1961. This listing is the highest level of historic status available to sites designated by the United States Secretary of the Interior. Telluride is one of five Colorado communities with this honor. The sites are so special that, in theory, they are eligible for consideration as national parks.

*Source: Town of Telluride

Get Excited To Experience The 2023-2024 Telluride Ski Season!