Durango

Then and Now

Historical photos of Durango Colorado compared to today

Durango Colorado in 1956*

Notice the airport runway where Fort Lewis College now stands

Photo used with the permission of the Center of Southwest Studies Fort Lewis College

I took the above picture in 2007.

The picture below is from 1961*

*Photo used with the permission of the Center of Southwest Studies Fort Lewis College

 
 

Santa Rita area of Durango

Above picture is used with the permission of the Center of Southwest Studies Fort Lewis College
Santa Rita area of Durango. At the time this part of town was referred to as Mexican Flats.
I do not have a date for the above picture but I took the picture below in 2018

Across the river was the Durango Smelter*

*Photo courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey (www.usgs.gov)

The Durango Smelter

In the late 1870's the mines near Silverton were doing great. John Porter was the manager of the Silverton smelter. The problem was Silverton didn't have any coal to power the smelter. Coal was hauled up from the Durango area on the train. Coal is heavy and this was expensive. John Porter decided to start his own smelter in Durango. The heavy ore could easily be carried down from Silverton to Durango where the coal was mined. Porter made a lot of money with his Durango smelter and his coal mine in Wildcat Canyon. Other coal mines were in Horse Gulch and the Boston Mine was just west of Perins Peak.

The above picture of the Durango Smelter was taken in about 1890.

The current dog park is where the smelter used to be. The picture below was taken in 2018.

 

Porter

In the late 19th century the Porter Mine removed coal from Wildcat Canyon. They mined coal from many locations in the canyon. In 1889 a 2000 foot long tunnel was built.  It was a very rich, easy to mine vein of coal. Unfortunately, it was also a very limited vein. The mine stopped coal production in 1908. 

The above picture of the Porter Coal Mine was taken in 1905*

There was also a town called Porter that was behind the photographer.

*Photo courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey (www.usgs.gov)

I took the below picture of the same area in Wildcat Canyon SW of Durango in 2018.

Above picture of the Porter Mine was taken in 1906 by M. K. Shaler*

*Photo courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey (www.usgs.gov)

I took the below picture of the same area in 2018

This is the Porter area. The Porter Coal mine is in the foreground and the town of Porter is further back.

The above picture was taken in 1900 by Andy Payne. I took the picture below in 2018.

This next picture is of the mouth of Wildcat Canyon. The top path above County Road 141 used to be the railroad bed.   This railroad would cross over Lightner Creek. At that point there was a wye where the train could to on to the Boston Mine at Perins Peak or turn to Durango.

The above picture shows the train trestle over Highway 160.

This next picture is shot from the same spot but taken in 2018.

This map from 1908 shows the railroad going from Porter (bottom of map) to Perins or on to Durango

The above picture is the trestle that went over the road we now call highway 160. One of the Twin Buttes is to the far right. The picture below is from the same area but shot in 2018.

Here's another picture shot more than 100 years ago of a train going over the trestle bridge with the Twin Buttes in the background. The picture below is shot from the same location as my picture above.

Here are two pictures that were taken at the mouth of Wildcat Canyon. You can see the Twin Buttes in the background. In the above picture you can see the railroad in the upper left, just beyond the telephone pole.  The picture below was taken in 2018.

This map is from 1953. You can see the railroad going to Perins, Durango, Porter and beyond. At this time Highway 160 went through Wildcat Canyon. It then veers northwest on what is now called County Road 125. In about 1954 Highway 160 was redirected over Hesperus hill past what we now call Durango West community. 

The above picture is of Highway 160 as it heads down the valley toward Hesperus.  

The picture below is the same view but taken in 2016. This road in the foreground is now called County Road 125 and down in the valley we can see Highway 140.

Durango Rail Yard

John B. West took the above picture of the Durango Rail Yard in 1965.

I took the picture below in 2019.

Weidman's Sawmill

Weidman's Sawmill was south of town. The above picture* was taken in 1957. I took the picture below in 2019. The River Loft apartments and Animas Surgical Hospital are presently at this location.

*the above picture is from MuseumSyndicate.com

These pictures are of the Animas River south of Durango. I don't have a date for the above picture but I shot the picture below in 2018. This is behind the Mall.

The Lion’s Den was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the late 1930’s. 

It is near the golf course overlooking Durango.

The above picture was taken in the early 1940’s.

I took the below picture in 2018.

The Lions den fell into disrepair. The next photo was taken by Barry Dolan in 1975. The roof was rebuilt and the Lions Den was restored to it's original condition.

View from the Lion's Den

Animas City Mountain

I don’t have a date for the above picture but I took the picture below in 2018.

Animas City

 

Animas City in 1895*

*Photo by Whitman Cross, courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey (www.usgs.gov)

Below is the same view but from 2018

Another view of Animas City in 1895*

Below is the same view but from 2018

*Photo by Whitman Cross, courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey (www.usgs.gov)

   Two things stand out in these pictures of Animas City:

1.   We have planted more trees than were originally in the Animas Valley.

2.  The glacial terminal moraines were more noticeable with fewer trees.

   The terminal moraines are piles of rock and dirt that were pushed along by glaciers. As the glacier receded the moraine remained as a linear hill.