In the last entry I focused on photos of Silverton's public spaces and
the wide variety of house styles.
Now I'll show you some of the businesses that currently occupy the
old saloons, taverns, hotels, gambling houses, livery, and other
historical structures for which Silverton is known. I'll also include
the steam train and some recreational activities.
Some of the more colorful businesses on Greene
This entry will be long on photos and short on text. Really!
Because Jim and I would rather be outdoors enjoying nature than
indoors buying stuff we don't need. We aren't avid shoppers. We
don't go out to eat much, either, and since we travel around the
country in our house on wheels, we no longer have a need to stay
in hotels, motels, or cute little B&Bs.
The old livery now sells antiques and gifts
In other words, we walked by these commercial establishments to
admire their history and architecture and interesting little
details -- but
entered very few of them and can't tell you much about what's
Even when I went inside some of them,
I usually didn't take photos because I thought it wasn't
appropriate for various reasons. The one place I really
wanted to take photos (of beautiful hand-woven clothing and
household goods) had "No Photography" signs posted.
To see the ornate tin ceilings, elaborate saloon fixtures,
handsome carved wooden mantels, and other really cool historical
design details inside some of these buildings, you'll just have
to visit Silverton and see them for yourself!
fun and you don't have to spend any money doing it, if you don't
want to. Just look and enjoy.
Bicycles are a popular way to explore
Silverton in the summer;
this rusty one is part of the decor,
Most of the businesses in Silverton are on two streets:
paved Greene Street and dirt Blair AKA Empire Street. They run parallel to
each other for about eight blocks in the older part of town.
Other shops are located on the intersecting streets between
them. Some newer stores are located between the historic
district and US 550 on the northwestern side of town.
I'll primarily focus on scenes from the older part of town,
starting with . . .
NOTORIOUS BLAIR STREET
When Silverton was first settled, Blair Street was the place to
go to enjoy
the seedier aspects of life in the mining community:
saloons (they didn't call them bars then), taverns, gambling
halls, and the red light district. As more "reputable" folks
moved in, this became the Wrong Side of Town.
Many of the current businesses try to capitalize on this
bawdy reputation to draw tourists, although even the Shady Lady
gone tame enough to take your kids or grandparents:
The Shady Lady retains some memorabilia from its past but now
caters to families. Signs in the window advertise home cooking,
family dining, and sandwiches.
Don't worry, though. If you like to drink alcoholic beverages,
there are still plenty of establishments in Silverton to satisfy
Have a thirst for coffee instead of beer? Try the Avalanche
House, one of my favorite buildings in town. It's the blue
building below, situated next to a sunny yellow art and
contemporary crafts shop:
Bet all those colors look sharp when the ground is covered in
snow! We haven't eaten at the Avalanche House for several years
but enjoyed their pizza and pastries back then.
Let's move down the street a little farther . . .
Old Town Square and Blair St. Emporium
Above and below: Silverton Art Works, a
neat little shop with a colorful fence and Jeep
Vern Parker's Hitchin' Post and a shop that
sells gift items
The original jailhouse, built in 1883
There are several options for lodging on Blair Street, including
these two historic ones:
Looking north from Blair Street: the
old Avon Hotel (R) and
the Christ of the Mines Shrine (white spot
on hill in center of photo)
Above and below: Villa Dallavalle,
owned and operated by Nancy and Gerald Swanson,
the couple who found me when I wrecked my
bike out on S. Mineral Creek Rd. last summer
This sturdy brick building has been in the Swanson family since the
1880s. There used to be a grocery store on the first floor. I
forgot to go back to get a better photo of the original grocery sign painted on
the side of the building.
I took the next two pictures from Blair and 12th. See the
railroad tracks? Those are for the popular Durango & Silverton
Narrow Gauge Railroad:
Since 1881, this authentic steam-powered, coal-fired train has
made daily trips from May to October through the scenic Animas River
Valley between Silverton and Durango:
I think there are at least two trains that run each day in the
When the trains chug into town, bystanders on the street gather
'round and start
snapping pictures. There's something so nostalgic about a train
belching smoke and steam! Dozens of tourists spill out of the passenger
compartments to wander through town while the train waits a
couple hours for them to spend some money in Silverton, then it
heads back to Durango in the hopes they'll spend some money
Gotta keep the economy humming!
Now let's walk over to . . .
HISTORIC GREENE STREET
This is the only paved street running the length of Silverton
and it's by far the most heavily-travelled. On a busy weekend or
holiday there are steady streams of cars, vans, pick-ups, Jeeps, motorcycles,
and RVs going up and down this main drag.
If you're into people-watching, you could find a bench along
this street and sit for hours watching people drive and walk by.
You'd be amazed how many foreign languages you'll hear (Texan and
European are the most common!). < grin >
Victorian architecture . . . and a satellite dish
(below arrow I added)!
Haven't eaten at Grumpy's, but like the
Have eaten at the Brown Bear several times
and can recommend it for good food,
attentive wait staff, inexpensive prices,
and a handsome old wooden bar along one wall
American Legion Post, Miners Union Hall,
tavern in brick building
My favorite building on Greene Street is the luxurious
Wyman Hotel, pictured below,
which was built of red sandstone in 1902.
Several years ago ultra runner Rodger Wrublik and his wife
the hotel and moved their primary residence to Silverton. They also own Nardini Manor in the Phoenix area and
have a long record of renovating historic properties and
accommodating visitors in style.
Although Jim and I don't have a need to stay in a hotel, Rodger
was kind enough to give us a tour of some of the
beautifully-decorated rooms in the Wyman last summer. I can't
begin to tell you how impressed we were. The Wrubliks have high
standards and a great sense of style so the rooms are quite
attractive, comfortable, and full of local history.
Their website describes the
history of the building,
amenities and meals offered, and types of
rooms available, including the
caboose out in the courtyard
(to the left in the photo above).
OTHER COMMERCIAL INTERESTS
There are many other businesses in town that cater to both
residents and visitors. I'll mention two more categories here
and let you discover the rest.
There are two ski areas near Silverton. The Silverton
Mountain Ski Area provides a natural experience without groomed
runs. It is located several miles out of town on CO 110.
Kendall Mountain Ski Area is just a few blocks from downtown.
This is the ski lodge:
There is a small fee for the lifts and downhill skiing but ice
skating, sledding, and tubing activities are free.
For folks with campers . . . in addition to the various
free national forest sites a few miles outside of town in all
directions, there are also three private
RV parks in Silverton.
We've never stayed at any of them but they all look pretty
decent. For a fee, boondockers can dump their gray/black water
tanks at any of them.
If we ever decide to pay for a site in one of the private
campgrounds for the convenience of having water and electrical
hookups, our first choice would be the AB RV Park:
AB is attractive, has larger sites, and they were happy to let
us use their laundry room several times while we were in town. I
can guarantee you it was a much better experience than using the
scuzzy coin laundry downtown!
Next entry: miscellaneous comments and photos as we leave
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the Ultra Lab
© 2010 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil