About Ouray Colorado

Ouray is located in the river valley of the San Juan Mountains of southewestern Colorado.  The town is named after Chief Ouray of the Utes, a Native American tribe, and is nicknamed the Switzerland of America.

Originally established by miners chasing silver and gold in the surrounding mountains, the town at one time boasted more horses and mules than people. Prospectors arrived in the area in 1875. At the height of the mining, Ouray had more than 30 active mines. By 1877 Ouray had grown to over 1,000 in population and was named county seat of the newly formed Ouray County on March 8, 1877.

The Denver & Rio Grande Railway arrived in Ouray on December 21, 1887. It would stay until the automobile and trucks caused a decline in traffic. The last regularly scheduled passenger train was September 14, 1930. The line between Ouray and Ridgway was abandoned on March 21, 1953.

The entirety of Main St. is registered as a National Historic District with most of the buildings dating back to the late nineteenth century. The Beaumont Hotel and the Ouray City Hall and Walsh Library are listed on the National Register of Historic Places individually, while the Ouray County Courthouse, St. Elmo Hotel, St. Joseph's Miners' Hospital (currently housing the Ouray County Historical Society and Museum), Western Hotel, and Wright's Opera House are included in the historic district.

Learn more about Ouray through Ouray, Colorado - A Short History, as well as visit the local Ouray County Museum.