Fun Facts About Durango

  • Durango’s name comes from the Basque word “Urango” meaning “water town.”  Colorado Governor A.G. Hunt gave our town its name after Durango, Mexico.
  • The Denver & Rio Grande Railroad Company founded the town of Durango in 1880.
  • Durango is located in the Animas River Valley at the intersection of US Highways 160 and 550.  It is surrounded by the gorgeous San Juan Mountains in La Plata County, Colorado.
  • Durango has over 300 days of sunshine a year.
  • The elevation of Durango is 6,512 feet above sea level.
  • The City of Durango comprises 5.6 square miles.
  • The word, “Hermosa” means beautiful in Spanish. Hermosa Cliffs are located north of Durango.
  • Anasazi Indians were the first settlers in the area but vacated the four corners around 1300.
  • The term Anasazi Indians has been replaced with Ancestral Puebloans.
  • Mesa Verde National Park was established as a National Park in 1906.
  • The train celebrated 120 years of service in 2002
  • Durango has always been a railroad town
  • The locomotive used by the D&SNGRR is from the 470-480 series, manufacture between the years 1923-25
  • The roundhouse burned on February 10, 1989. The fire destroyed the roundhouse and damaged 6 of the locomotives. This did not prevent the train from running as scheduled that year in May.
  • The narrow-gauge rails are thirty-six inches apart, standard gauge rails are fifty-six inches.
  • Throughout the course of many years, the D&SNGRR has carried over three hundred million dollars in precious metals.
  • The D&SNGRR Gauge Railroad carries approximately 200,000 passengers a year.
  • The D&SNGRR uses 10,000 gallons of water per round-trip and 12,000 pounds of coal; the coal is shoveled one shovel at a time.
  • The Powerhouse Science Museum opened in the restored Durango Power House—the oldest know steam-powered AC power plant surviving today.
  • The Animas River’s official name is El Rio de las Animas Perdidas, roughly translated, this means, “The River of Lost Souls.”  The Spanish explorers named the river after several explorers traveled on the river and were lost.  Their bodies were never found, and last rites could not be administered, being devoted Catholics, they believed the dead men’s souls could not enter heaven and would be relegated to Purgatory.
  • This legend also explains the name of our ski mountain—Purgatory Resort. Purgatory Creek is near lift 4 at the ski area. The ski resort renamed Durango Mountain Resort in 1999. The original resort opened in 1965. There are over 40 miles of groomed terrain and over 260 inches of annual snowfall.
  • Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort was voted as having the best "Ski Weather in America" more than 10 times by SKI Magazine
  • The Animas is one of the last free-flowing rivers in the entire Western United States.
  • There is a two-mile stretch on the Animas River that is “gold medal” water. “Gold Medal” water has the highest quality of fishing for large trout. Lures and flies only are allowed on this stretch of water.
  • Average yearly peak flows are measured in Durango at around 5,000 cubic feet per second. During years of high runoff, the volume reaches 7,000 cubic feet per second.
  • The Strater Hotel, Durango’s elegant landmark was built in 1887. Celebrated 125 years in 2012!
  • Jack Dempsey fought Andy Malloy on October 7, 1915, in the Jarvis Suites Hotel. Dempsey, born in southern Colorado, became the heavyweight champion in 1919.
  • The Iron Horse Bike Classic began in 1972. The road bikers race the D&SNGRR to Silverton on Memorial Day weekend. It is the longest continuously run cycling event in the United States.
  • Fort Lewis College was originally an Indian school located on the Ute Reservation.
  • The local newspaper, The Durango Herald was originally The Durango Democrat in the 1880s.
  • The honeybees in Honeyville live for 6 weeks working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They also fly at speeds as fast as 14 miles an hour.
  • The Diamond Belle Saloon opened its doors in 1957 and has a bullet hole in the far-east drawer behind the bar.
  • Southern Ute Tribe was the original habitant of the area.
  • 1,200 members of the Southern Ute Tribe live in Ignacio. Southern Utes are the largest employer in La Plata County. 
  • Durango Hot Springs' mineral water contains the following minerals: zinc, sulfate, sodium, potassium, phosphate, nitrogen, manganese, magnesium, lithium, iron, fluoride, chloride, calcium, and boron.
  • Louis L’Amour wrote the Sackett Series, a set of western novels while staying at The Strater Hotel.
  • Durango has more restaurants per capita than San Francisco (2006, Denver Post).