Ridgway Colorado History & Heritage

History & Heritage

A collection of cultural and economic artifacts and sites awaits your exploration

On The Big Screen

Image from True Grit the Movie
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.

Western Movies

  • True Grit
  • Tribute to a Bad Man
  • How the West Was Won
  • The Sons of Katie Elder
  • True Grit Movie

    True Grit

    True Grit (filmed summer and fall, 1968) – When Charles Portis’ novel was published early in 1968, John Wayne received a pre-publication copy and directed his son to buy the movie rights for their Batjac production company. The Waynes lost out to Paramount, who immediately hired Wayne to play the part of Rooster Cogburn.
  • Tribute to a Bad Man movie poster

    Tribute to a Bad Man

    Tribute to a Bad Man (1957) – filmed just south of Ridgway on Miller Mesa on the old Walther ranch, near Top of the Pines and the Elk Meadows mailboxes on County Road 5. Written by Jack Schaefer, who also wrote the classic westerns Shane and Monte Walsh. Directed by Robert Wise (The Sound of Music, West Side Story, The Andromeda Strain, The Day the Earth Stood Still). Originally to star Spencer Tracy, Tracy hated southwestern Colorado and Wise fired him and replaced him with James Cagney. This was Cagney’s last western.
  • How the West Was Won movie poster

    How the West Was Won

    How the West Was Won (1962) – Ridgway’s Hartwell Park, Cow Creek, and the Katie’s Meadow (Debbie’s meadow) areas used by director Henry Hathaway, who later used the same areas for True Grit. The meadow was used for the scene where wagon master Robert Preston proposes to Debbie Reynolds.
  • Sons of Katie Elder Movie

    The Sons of Katie Elder

    The Sons of Katie Elder (1965) – While this film was not filmed in the immediate Ridgway area (a bit was shot on the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad near Durango), it is based on the lives of George and Charley Marlow, who lived in Ridgway and the Colona area from 1890 to about 1920 and maintained strong ties to the area until their deaths in the early 1940s. While in this area they were respected ranchers and served as lawmen for about 10 years. The portion of their life story that became the movie took place in western Texas in 1888 to 1889, and their real-life story is much more dramatic than the movie. They have many descendants in the area.

More things to do in Ridgway...

  • Photography all year round!
  • Fishing in lakes & rivers
  • Rafting & Kayaking
  • Fly Fishing
  • Playing in the river at Rollans Park
  • Windsurfing & Sailing
  • Windsurfing & Sailing
  • Horseback Riding
  • Camping & Backpacking
  • Scenic Drives
  • Motorcycle Touring
  • Skateboarding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife viewing & Birding
  • Sledding & Snowmobiling
  • Skiing and Snowboarding
  • XCountry Skiing & Snowshoeing

Visitors Center & Ridgway Area Chamber

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 currently closed until further notice due to COVID-19, 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

800.220.4959
970.626.5181

See you in Ridgway

Adventure, night life and all around easy living await you in Ridgway Colorado, gateway to the San Juan Mountains.

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