When I visit a town, I really like to get to know it. That’s why I enjoy a three-night stay when visiting a new location; it gives me time to soak in the ambiance and savor the flavor of a place.
How does one really get to know a town? I find that knowing a town’s history is one very effective way to get to know a place, so when I travel, I almost always visit the local history museum.
In January, while attending the Telluride Fire Festival, I spent an afternoon browsing the Telluride Historical Museum. I enjoyed the flow of this museum as I walked through each room the town’s story unfolded, right up to modern day.
This beautiful, Smithsonian affiliated museum is located at the top of Fir Street inside the former Miner’s Hospital that operated into the 1960s.
While most of Colorado’s mountain towns developed around the mining industry, each has a unique story to tell. Telluride’s unique story is electric, literally. In 1891, Telluride became the world’s first city to be electrically lit – they even beat Paris, the City of Lights.
However, just because the town was electrified doesn’t mean it was gentrified. It was a rough and tumble town that was without a church until 1887. Before then a weekly church service had been held at a local saloon. A funny quote from a local newspaper in 1887 says it all: “Ouray has 4 churches and 14 saloons. Telluride has 10 saloons and plans for a church.”
Should you go bar hopping while visiting Telluride, you’ll be participating in a longtime town tradition.
Upstairs you’ll find the history of Telluride’s tourism economy. One 1950s promotional ad read:
“Cool summers, wonderful scenery, fine people, swell visitors, good stories too!”
After our three-night stay in January, I’d say that six decades later, those words still apply to Telluride.
Plan your visit to the Telluride Historical Museum by visiting TellurideMuseum.org.
Some other posts like this one:
Hotel de Paris, a gem hidden in plain sight (Georgetown)
Museum Monday: The Agricultural Heritage Center (Lyons/Longmont)
In honor of Black History Month: Barney Ford Museum (Breckenridge)
American Mountaineering Museum (Golden)
A tour of the Timberlane Farm Museum (Loveland)
Ghost Hunting at the Colorado Prison Museum (Canon City)