Fun Facts

Durango has a long and rich history, and a lot of stories to tell! Check out some of these fun facts about Durango below.

  • The name Durango comes from the Basque word “Urango”, which means “water town”. This name is fitting for Durango, as the Animas River runs through town.
  • The Denver & Rio Grande Railroad Company founded the town of Durango in 1880, building what is now the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad by July 1882. Laborers were paid an average of $2.25/day.
  • The tracks of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad are only 36 inches apart, while standard gauge rails are 56 inches apart.
  • The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad uses approximately 10,000 gallons of water per round-trip and 12,000 pounds of coal, which is shoveled one shovelful at a time.
  • Durango is located at the intersection of US Highways 160 and 550 and is only 5.6 square miles.
  • There are more Durango restaurants per capita than San Francisco.
  • The Ancestral Puebloans (formerly referred to as the Anasazi) were the first settlers in the area, but vanished from the Four Corners region around 1300.
  • Mesa Verde National Park, home to thousands of archaeological sites including ancient cliff dwellings of the Ancestral Puebloans, was established as a National Park in 1906.
  • The original name of the Animas River is “El Rio de las Animas Perdidas”, which when translated from Spanish means “The River of Lost Souls”. The river was named after several Spanish explorers were lost while traveling on the river. Their bodies were never found, and the remaining explorers believed the souls of the lost explorers would be relegated to Purgatory.
  • Two miles of the Animas River are “Gold Medal” waters, a classification for the highest quality of fishing for large trout. Fly fishing only on this stretch of water.
  • The previous legend also explains the original name of Durango’s ski resort, Purgatory.
  • Jack Dempsey fought Andy Malloy on October 7, 1915 at the Jarvis Suites Hotel. Dempsey, born in southern Colorado, became the heavy weight boxing champion in 1919.
  • The Iron Horse Bicycle Classic began in 1972, and is the longest continuously run cycling event in the U.S. Road bikers race the Durango-Silverton Train to Silverton over Memorial Day weekend.
  •  Fort Lewis College was originally an Native American School, located on the Ute Reservation.
  • Many of the buildings in historic downtown Durango were constructed with stone and brick due to a city ordinance enacted after a fire in 1889, which damaged several blocks along Main Avenue.
  • Durango’s newspaper, the Durango Herald, was originally called the Durango Democrat in the 1880s.
  • The honeybees at Honeyville live for 6 weeks and work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They can also fly at speeds as fast as 14 mph.
  • The Diamond Belle Saloon at the Strater Hotel opened its doors in 1957 and has a bullet hole in the far east drawer behind the bar.
  • The headquarters of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe is located in Ignacio, located 25 miles southeast of Durango.
  • The water of Durango Hot Springs Resort & Spa contains the following minerals: zinc, sulfate, sodium, potassium, phosphate, nitrogen, manganese, magnesium, lithium, iron, fluoride, chloride, calcium and boron.
  • Durango is the hometown of the original Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.
  • Several well known movies were made in Durango, including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, City Slickers, Cliffhanger, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Night Passage, Ticket to Tomahawk, Around the World in Eighty Days, How the West Was Won, and Tracker.