The Denver and Rio Grande Railroad established Durango in September 1880 when they extended their railroad from Durgano to Silverton so they could provide transportation from mines located in the high country. They incorporated the town in 1881. The newly formed town grew quickly because the railroad provided jobs and business opportunities. Entrepreneurs streamed into the town to establish businesses that included restaurants, hotels, blacksmith shops, and markets. There were almost as many saloons as there were hotels and restaurants. The rapid growth of the town and the presence of so many saloons spawned lawlessness. A government was put in place to address these issues. One of the first efforts to curb the problem was to impose fines on businesses that were engaged in illicit practices; however, these efforts were eventually abandoned because of the businesses' profitability. They were simply fined each month and allowed to continue operating.
Staying indoors while visiting Durango is not an option because it is a paradise for outdoor activity. There is surely an outdoor activity for almost anyone. Hiking, mountain biking, road biking, backpacking, camping, fishing, rock climbing, kayaking, rafting, golfing, glider rides, swimming, horseback riding, and jeep tours are some of the outdoor activities the Durango has to offer.
If outdoor activities do not appeal to you, perhaps trying your luck at the Sky Ute Casino and Lodge that is less than a thirty-minute drive from the town will appeal to you. The town also has the following museums: Center of Southwest Studies, Southern Ute Cultural Center, Animas History Museum, Durango & Silverton Round House Museum, and the Grand Motorcar and Piano Museum. Durango's Art Center and wide variety of art galleries and art walks will keep arts enthusiast busy.
For those who are interested in ancient history and culture, exploring the ancient dwellings of Ancestral Puebloans at Mesa Verde National Park is sure to pique their interests and stimulate their imaginations.
Although the summer months offer a variety of activities, winters in Durango can be just as interesting and full of fun. The Durango Mountain Resort is a delightful place for ski enthusiasts and those who love the beauty of winter. Formerly known as Purgatory Resort, Durango Mountain Resort is located 25 miles north of Durango. The resort contains 1,200 acres of terrain and receives 260 inches of snow per year.
Whether you visit Durango in the summer or winter, the town's beauty, history, and variety of activities are sure to please and delight.