a peasant rollin’ on the Million Dollar Highway- Ouray to Silverton

Red Mining district

Yankee Girl Mine-Red Mountain mining district

In 1883, Otto Mears built one of the most spectacular mountain roadways in North America- the stunning drive connecting the newly risen mining towns of Ouray to Silverton in southwest Colorado. It began as a toll road and earned its nickname from all the riches that passed along the road in the form of gold, silver and other high-value ore that came from the mines in the Red Mountain mining district that the road serviced.

Though the entire stretch has been called the Million Dollar Highway, it is really the twelve miles  south of Ouray through the Uncompahgre Gorge to the summit of Red Mountain Pass which gains the highway its name. This stretch through the gorge is challenging and potentially hazardous to drive; it is characterized by steep cliffs, narrow lanes, and a lack of guardrails; the ascent of Red Mountain Pass is marked with a number of hairpin curves used to gain elevation, and again, narrow lanes for traffic—many cut directly into the sides of mountains.

It’s a stunning drive, and if you’re an old mining history buff such as I, you will enjoy this drive immensely. Especially in the fall, when the many groves of aspen trees covering the red-tinged slopes of the craggy San Juan mountains blaze gold.

here is some of what you will see on your journey. (photos taken September 24, 2013):

 

Mt. Sneffels- 14,150 ft., in first snow of the season, seen approaching Ouray.

Mt. Sneffels- 14,150 ft., in first snow of the season, seen approaching Ouray.

Chimney Rock (at left) and Courthouse Tower (right), as seen near Ouray

Chimney Rock (at left) and Courthouse Tower (right), as seen near Ouray

Mt. Abrams- 12,801 ft. towers over Ouray

Mt. Abrams- 12,801 ft. towers over Ouray

the Ouray Hotel, built in 1893

the Ouray Hotel, built in 1893

the Beaumont Building in Ouray, built 1886.

the Beaumont Building in Ouray, built 1886.

the Elks Lodge building in Ouray- built 1904

the Elks Lodge building in Ouray- built 1904

the Ouray City Hall, built in 1900

the Ouray City Hall, built in 1900

the Ouray Courthouse, built 1888

the Ouray Courthouse, built 1888

view to Ouray- the Switzerland of America

view to Ouray- the Switzerland of America

about to enter the Million Dollar Highway

about to enter the Million Dollar Highway

Mt. Abrams looms large over the Million Dollar Highway

Mt. Abrams looms large over the Million Dollar Highway

I'm there, are you?

I’m there, are you?

Bear Creek Waterfall

Bear Creek Waterfall

seen along the Million Dollar Highway

seen along the Million Dollar Highway

why do they call this Red Mountain?

why do they call this Red Mountain?

an old ore loader- Red Mountain mining district

an old ore loader- Red Mountain mining district

Red Mountain mining district

Red Mountain mining district

the San Juans in early autumn

the San Juans in early autumn

Yankee Girl Mine- Red Mountain mining district

Yankee Girl Mine-
Red Mountain mining district

a derelict ore bucket at the Yankee Girl Mine

a derelict ore bucket at the Yankee Girl Mine

the Yankee Girl Mine- Red Mountain mining district

the Yankee Girl Mine-
Red Mountain mining district

Red Mountain mining district

Red Mountain mining district

miners quarters- Red Mountain mining district

miners quarters- Red Mountain mining district

Red Mountain

Red Mountain

Red Mountain mining district

Red Mountain mining district

Red Mountain mining district

Red Mountain mining district

the Sneffels Range, with Mt. Sneffels at center, as seen from Ralph Laurens ranch

the Sneffels Range, with Mt. Sneffels at center, as seen from Ralph Laurens ranch

Mt. Sneffels- 14,150 ft. lords in the San Juan Range

Mt. Sneffels- 14,150 ft.
lords in the San Juan Range

Ralph Lauren Ranch...the Double RL

Ralph Lauren Ranch…the Double RL

the Wetterhorn- 14,015 ft., as seen from Dallas Divide

the Wetterhorn- 14,015 ft., as seen from Dallas Divide

coming into Telluride, a former mining town turned glitzy ski resort

coming into Telluride, a former mining town turned glitzy ski resort

Telluride- my favorite ski town

Telluride- my favorite ski town

sunrise lights up the tip of Wilson Peak- 14,017 ft., as seen from Last Dollar Ranch- Telluride

sunrise lights up the tip of Wilson Peak- 14,017 ft., as seen from Last Dollar Ranch- Telluride

sunrise lights up Lizard Head spire, like a candle

sunrise lights up Lizard Head spire, like a candle

old barn- Telluride

old barn- Telluride

Wilson Peak towers over some barns in Telluride.

Wilson Peak towers over some barns in Telluride.

an old homestead in Telluride

an old homestead in Telluride

Lone Cone- 12,614 ft.,  as seen near Norwood, CO

Lone Cone- 12,614 ft.,
as seen near Norwood, CO

colorado map- our travels

colorado map- our travels

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