Boom Days in Telluride
Telluride is truly a Wow. As I explored this charming western town I stopped often on the wide Main Street. “Wow” popped out of my mouth every time. Couldn’t help it.
The valley nestling Telluride is narrow and ends in a V with a wonderful waterfall. Wherever you look, you see magnificent snow tipped peaks and a blazing cornucopia of reds, oranges and gold against the blankets of forest green evergreens.
The town is pretty cool too. Old western buildings lovingly restored, history oozing out the doors and into the atmosphere. No sign of the Gap, Gucci or other boringly similar shops.
I walked around the residential streets a bit and had not only the feeling of the Old West but also the ambiance of a town near to where I live—Saugatuck. The little wooded boxy houses, situated flat on the land with welcoming front porches, brightly painted trims had that creative artsy feeling I know and love. Might even compare to some parts of Key West.
This town was once a very prosperous mining town but when that industry died, it became about as close to a ghost town as it could get. In the 1960s, the hippies and the flower children arrived. They loved cheap rent, pristine setting, the geographic isolation and the stunning beauty.
Once the recreational ski industry discovered Telluride they wandered off, leaving a couple of legacies: many music and intellectual festivals and funnily, a row of shelves on a side street marked “free stuff.”
Anyone can leave or take anything on the shelves. Free.
I loved riding the gondola—the towns free mass transit system. Seriously. One simply hops on the gondola to ride to the top of the mountain to ski or stop for a meal or drink, then one can ride down to the other side to the Mountain Village and even beyond to parking.
The Mountain Village is a modern development where 2500 people live and thousands come every year to ski, shop, rent condos and hang out in the glorious setting. It’s a lot like ski villages in Snowmass, Beaver Creek and other high end ski destinations. Nice but nothing particularly memorable.
What I liked about the gondola is that it helped to preserve the old town. No need to build newer condo developments in the old town. Even better, it keeps cars off the road. Visitors to the area can easily move back and forth to the different venues, marveling the view. How perfectly lovely.
And it is truly public mass transit. On one of our rides, a slightly sulky teenager, making her way home after hanging out in town with friends after school, joined us. With a little encouragement, she tore her self away from her Blackberry and gave us advice about what hills might be the best for baby boomer skiing.
We also enjoyed visiting the New Sheridan Hotel—a historic mining hotel restored for modern day use. We sat at the stainless steel bar in the modern cocktail area, chatting with the bar tender while he served one martini after another to a hip crowd.
He told us about the bar adjoining the one we camped out in, explaining it is the original hotel bar and that that Butch Cassidy liked to hang out there pounding down a whiskey or two.
I poked my head into the door, and, oh my gosh, I think the original furniture was still there—musty Victorian love seat, old bar stools, that kind of thing. If Butch Cassidy did hang out there, he sure had a lot of chutzpah. It’s been fairly well documented that he and his gang held up the local bank for $24,000 in 1889.
I wonder if he was planning the heist or spending the proceeds.