Discover the magic of Durango! Founded in 1880 by the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, historic Durango is perched at 6512 feet above sea level and is the county seat of La Plata County. Located in the southwest corner of Colorado near the Four Corners area, Durango is nestled in the Animas River Valley and surrounded by the San Juan Mountains. This diversity of the surrounding geography and ideal climate provides for a veritable playground of endless recreational opportunities and attractions. Best known for the Historic Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, as the home of Fort Lewis College, and for its proximity to Mesa Verde National Park, Durango is a popular year-round destination. From pristine snow and waterways, majestic mountains to superb shopping and dining, fascinating arts and culture, you’ll find an array of activities as relaxing or adventurous as you like. Come discover what makes this beautiful mountain town such a delightful place to live, work and play. History of Durango Due to its ideal climate, beautiful landscapes and plentiful natural resources, Durango has enjoyed a long and rich history. During the period beginning 2,500 years ago until the 1300s, Ancestral Puebloans called this area home. By the time the Ute Indians settled here, centuries later, these ancient people had mysteriously disappeared from their last homeland - the area now called Mesa Verde National Park. The Ute Indians sheltered in the abandoned dwellings and enjoyed ample fishing and hunting opportunities the area offered. In 1860, a lucky prospector discovered gold. Within the year, miners, farmers and families flocked to the area. Twenty years later, railroad officials created plans for the railroad, Main Avenue, Second and Third Avenues, and by 1881 the City of Durango was incorporated and became the county seat. By the turn of the century, Durango had become a vacation destination, with the creation of the San Juan National Forest in 1905 and Mesa Verde National Park in 1906. The 1900s brought many of the modern-day amenities that residents still enjoy today, including the Durango Municipal Airport in 1929, the expansion of Fort Lewis College to a four year college in 1957 and Purgatory ski resort in 1965. Present-day Durango sees multitudes of visitors each year who embrace the many opportunities to fish, hike, mountain bike and ski, and welcomes history buffs taking in Durango's historic downtown and nearby archaeological wonders.
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