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The brand new old West



The Anasazi Indians were the first settlers in the Four Corners area. They mysteriously vanished around 1300 AD. Next were the Navajo and Ute Indians, claiming western Colorado as their home in the 16th century. The Spanish explorers visited the area in 1776, naming the river upon which Durango is located, Rio de Las Animas Perdidas, the River of Lost Souls, now called the Animas. Former territorial governor, AC Hunt, named the area Durango, after Durango, Mexico, a name meaning “water town.” Durango was not founded as a result of pioneers looking for gold, but by the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, which decided to build a depot 1.5 miles south of Animas City, then a bustling town of 300 people. The first stake was driven in 1880. Except for a few small stores, restaurants and saloons, Durango was mainly a box tent town. A narrow gauge steam engine connected the mining town of Silverton with the coal and smelter operations in Durango. The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad remains in operation today as a popular tourist attraction. Durango reflects three cultures, Anglo, Hispanic and Native American.