2010 RUNNING & TRAVEL ADVENTURES

 

   
 
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  EXPLORING THE TOWN OF SILVERTON, PART 2:
HISTORIC COMMERCIAL BUILDINGS

MONDAY, JULY 12

 
". . . Shopkeepers, schoolmarms, and sheriffs began sharing the streets with saloon keepers,
gamblers, and miners in town to spend their cash. It was a raucous, racy time
when every heart beat with the hope of eternal riches, be it from
digging for ore or holding a winning hand of cards . . .
 
. . . The town of Silverton still remains uniquely intact, little changed from
its mining heydays. In town, impressive brick and stone buildings boast tin ceilings,
ornate and elaborate saloon fixtures, and in more than one building,
remnants of gambling equipment and whiskey bottles from bygone eras . . ."
 
~ Kathryn Retzler, Silverton Magazine, Vol. 8, 2009-2010, p. 4
 
 
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 Street

This entry will be long on photos and short on text. Really!

Why?

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 available inside.

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. Rats.

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!

It's 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, though.

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 Saloon has 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 your thirst!

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 summer.

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 there, too.

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 name

 


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 Tana purchased 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 romantic 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 Silverton

Happy trails,

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, and Cody the Ultra Lab

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2010 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil

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