Telluride’s history is as colorful as the Victorian homes lining the streets.

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Telluride sunset
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Founded in 1878, Telluride’s history is as colorful as the Victorian homes lining the streets.

Originally named Columbia, the fledgling town was forced to change its name in 1887 due to post office confusion with Columbia, California. From 1887 on, Telluride began to earn its place on the map as a budding mining town.

Most say Telluride is named after tellurium, a nonmetallic element associated with rich mineral deposits of gold and silver. Others say it originated from the castaway call “To-Hell-You-Ride” shouted by loved ones who knew of the town’s boisterousness. Either way, folks were attracted to the young town full of promise and opportunity.

At the height of the gold rush, nearly 5,000 people inhabited Telluride, referred to as the “town without a bellyache.”

In fact, at the turn of the century, more millionaires (per capita) lived in Telluride than in New York City. The Tomboy Mine was one of the world’s greatest gold producers and contributed to more than $360 million dollars of gold pulled out of the area.

The wealth of Telluride attracted the likes of Butch Cassidy, who began his illustrious bank robbing career in town. In 1889, Butch walked away from his first heist at the San Miguel Valley Bank with $24,580, never to be recovered

Snow–once despised by the miners, falls in glorious abundance on the tops of mountains and covers the ski trails. It also put Telluride back on the map. The Scandinavian sport of skiing was introduced to Telluride by Swedes and Finns, maybe for the sheer joy, but more for the quick means of transportation.