Ouray County offers something for every history buff, from easy access to ghost towns to scenic ranches and world-class museums. Prior to the mining era of the 1860s to 1950s, Ouray was inhabitated by the native Utes. As mining grew, so did the ranching and railroad industries supporting it. Today, Ouray County celebrates its unique Western heritage with museums dedicated to mining, railroading, ranching and the Utes, as well as private collections and a beautiful historic fairgrounds that hosts the annual Labor Day Ouray County Fair & Rodeo.
The tight-knit community of Ridgway is full of interesting people with unusual and fascinating backgrounds, as well as historians with deep knowledge of a variety of people and places. From top international athletes to prominent scientists and artists, we have a large pool of experts who are happy to share their stories, insights and knowledge through presentations, films and discussions. Locals also are connected to world-renown presenters who love to make the journey to our beautiful valley, where they can enlighten and inspire.
From our well-known Railroad Museum to the growing Ouray County Ranch History Museum, Ridgway has a lot of history packed into our little town. Within short drives to neighboring towns, you can also learn about mining, the Utes and other local history including movies filmed here like True Grit.
The captivating beauty of Ridgway, Ouray and surrounding areas has attracted a number of production companies making movies, documentaries and commercials. More than 100 films have been made in southwestern Colorado. The rugged peaks, steep canyons, rustic mine buildings and ghost towns of the San Juan Mountains make you feel as though you are still in the Old West of the American frontier. Hollywood filmmakers have always thought so too. Thus, the Ridgway area has served as settings for several classic western movies. Many film sites, buildings, props and embellishments may still be seen in and around our town.
Ridgway, home of the Rio Grande Southern Railroad, had its beginning as a railroad town in 1890. Otto Mears, known as the Pathfinder of the San Juans for his network of toll roads, and his fellow investors founded the town to be the headquarters of their Rio Grande Southern Railroad (R.G.S.). The R.G.S was to connect the new town with Durango, passing through the rich mining camps of Telluride and Rico along the way. The R.G.S. was 162 miles long,crossed more than 140 bridges and trestles and connected to the Ouray branch of the Denver & Rio Grande at Ridgway.
The Ridgway Area Chamber of Commerce promotes business and community development in the Town of Ridgway and the surrounding area. The chamber operates the Visitors Center, which is open from May 1 through October 1 and is located at 150 Racecourse Road, Ridgway, Colorado 81432 (across from Citizens Bank off of HWY 62).
P.O. Box 544
Ridgway, Colorado 81432