Silverton, Colorado

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Town of Silverton, Colorado
Location in San Juan County and the state of Colorado
Location in San Juan County and the state of Colorado
Coordinates: 37°48′45″N 107°39′47″W / 37.81250°N 107.66306°W / 37.81250; -107.66306Coordinates: 37°48′45″N 107°39′47″W / 37.81250°N 107.66306°W / 37.81250; -107.66306
Country  United States
State  State of Colorado
County[1] San Juan County - seat[2]
Established 1874
Incorporated November 15, 1885[3]
 • Type Statutory Town[1]
 • Mayor Christine Tookey
 • Total 0.8 sq mi (2.1 km2)
 • Land 0.8 sq mi (2.1 km2)
 • Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation[4] 9,308 ft (2,837 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 638
 • Density 656.0/sq mi (253.3/km2)
Time zone Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)
 • Summer (DST) MDT (UTC-6)
ZIP code[5] 81433 (PO Box)
Area code(s) 970
FIPS code 08-70580
GNIS feature ID 0204750
Website Town of Silverton
Silverton Historic District
Grand Imperial Hotel, Silverton Historic District
Location Silverton, Colorado
Built 1882
Architect Multiple
Architectural style Late Victorian (original)
Other (increase)
Governing body Local (original)
NRHP Reference # 66000255 (original) and 97000247 (increase)[6]
Significant dates
Added to NRHP October 15, 1966 (original)
April 03, 1997 (boundary increase)
Designated NHLD July 04, 1961[7]

The town of Silverton is a Statutory Town that is the county seat of, and the only incorporated municipality in San Juan County, Colorado, United States.[8] Silverton is a former silver mining camp, most or all of which is now included in a federally designated National Historic Landmark District, the Silverton Historic District. The town population was 531 at U.S. Census 2000.[9]

Silverton is linked to Durango by the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, a National Historic Landmark. Silverton no longer has active mining, but subsists by tourism, maintenance of US 550 (which links Montrose with Durango via Silverton), mine pollution remediation, and retirees. In 2002 an extreme ski mountain, Silverton Mountain, opened near the town.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 0.8 square miles (2.1 km2), all of it land. Silverton is one of the highest towns in the United States, at 9,318 feet (2,836 m) above sea level. This is also where the book "The Christopher Killer" takes place.


Charles Baker's group of prospectors found traces of placer gold in the San Juan Mountains in 1860 at Eureka, Colorado. Forced by the Ute Tribe out in 1861, who had been awarded the area in a US treaty. The prospectors returned in 1871, when lode gold was found in the Little Giant vein at Arrastre Gulch. The miners were allowed to stay after the Brunot Treaty of 13 Sept. 1873. In exchange for giving up 4 million acres, the Southern Ute Indian Reservation received $25,000 per year.[10]:49

In Aug. 1873, George Howard and R.J. McNutt discovered the Sunnyside silver vein along Hurricane Peak. Gold was then discovered in 1882. The Sunnyside Mine was shut down after the 1929 stock market crash, but was acquired by Standard Metals Corp. in 1959, and reopened, finding gold in 1973 with the Little Mary vein. Half of Colorado's gold production in the 1970s came from the Sunnyside. Disaster occured on 4 June 1978, when Lake Emma collapsed into the mine. The mine reopened after two years, but was acquired by Echo Bay Mines in 1986, which operated the mine for another five years.[10]:50-51,60,123[11]


As of the census[12] of 2000, there were 531 people, 255 households, and 149 families residing in the town. The population density was 656.0 people per square mile (253.1/km²). There were 430 housing units at an average density of 531.2 per square mile (205.0/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 97.36% White, 0.75% Native American, 0.38% Pacific Islander, 0.75% from other races, and 0.75% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 7.72% of the population.

There were 255 households out of which 24.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.5% were married couples living together, 9.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.2% were non-families. 36.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 4.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.06 and the average family size was 2.63.

In the town the population was spread out with 20.7% under the age of 18, 4.0% from 18 to 24, 28.4% from 25 to 44, 39.9% from 45 to 64, and 7.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 44 years. For every 100 females there were 108.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 110.5 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $30,486, and the median income for a family was $39,375. Males had a median income of $30,588 versus $19,886 for females. The per capita income for the town was $16,839. About 14.0% of families and 21.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 29.4% of those under age 18 and 7.1% of those age 65 or over.

The local school system has a total of 53 K-through-12 students as of November, 2006.

Notable residents[edit]

Silverton in popular culture[edit]

In the novel The Christopher Killer by Alane Ferguson, the main setting is in Silverton.

Country singer C. W. McCall recorded "The Silverton," about the Silverton and Durango Railroad, on his 1975 album Black Bear Road.

Silverton was the setting for some of Shaun White's 2010 Olympic training. Taking advantage of the secluded locale, terrain and snow fall, Red Bull built a private halfpipe for the snowboarder. Known as "Project X," the halfpipe was completed in Feb. 2009 on the backside of Silverton Mountain and allowed the boarder to perfect some of his gold medal winning moves far from prying eyes.

The 2003 Microsoft video game Freelancer features a Colorado solar system including the 'Silverton' asteroid field.

The 2014 movie Into the Storm places his story in a fictional Silverton, located in Oklahoma instead Colorado.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Active Colorado Municipalities". State of Colorado, Department of Local Affairs. Retrieved 2007-09-01. 
  2. ^ "Colorado County Seats". State of Colorado, Department of Public Health and Environment. Retrieved 2007-12-31. 
  3. ^ "Colorado Municipal Incorporations". State of Colorado, Department of Personnel & Administration, Colorado State Archives. 2004-12-01. Retrieved 2007-09-02. 
  4. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  5. ^ "ZIP Code Lookup" (JavaScript/HTML). United States Postal Service. Retrieved 2008-01-02. 
  6. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23. 
  7. ^ "Silverton Historic District". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2007-10-13. 
  8. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  9. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Population for All Incorporated Places: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2005" (CSV). 2005 Population Estimates. United States Census Bureau, Population Division. 2006-06-20. Retrieved 2007-05-29. 
  10. ^ a b Voynick, S.M., 1992, Colorado Gold, Missoula: Mountain Press Publishing Company, ISBN 0878424555
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 

External links[edit]