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The Spirit of Telluride

Telluride’s independent spirit is nothing new. The town was established by a handful of very independent types—men who’d hauled themselves and their equipment (and in some cases, their families) over high mountain passes. Gold was discovered in 1858, but because of its remote location the town remained isolated until the railroad arrived in 1891, bringing prosperity with it. By the turn of the 20th century, Telluride had close to 5,000 inhabitants—and more millionaires per capita than New York City. Soon afterward the boom went bust as the minerals market crashed, and Telluride’s population dropped to a few hundred people.

Everything changed again in the 1970s, when the first chairlift went in (and the last of the mines were shut down). Skiing seemed to fit with Telluride’s wild-and-woolly character—local legend holds that the miners of old, often of Norwegian descent, would ski down the mountain after a day in the mines, as this was the quickest way to get to the town’s bordellos. Nowadays, Telluride’s independent types are busy designing bigger and better ski terrain (and organizing music and film festivals), all the while working to preserve what makes Telluride unique.

Updated: 2014-01-16

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