Zabel Canyon Indian Ruins / Spring Creek Archaeological District
San Juan National Forest
National Register 5/21/1983, 5LP.1254
The district shows a long occupancy, possibly beginning as early as 300BC and lasting through the Basketmaker and Pueblo periods of the Ancient Pueblo People, to proto-historic Athabascan and Ute Indian occupancy.
Colorado Ute Power Plant
14th St. & Animas River
National Register 9/29/1983, 5LP.1146
Constructed in 1893, the two-story stuccoed building is the earliest known example of Mission style architecture in the state, as well as a rare example of the utilization of the style in an industrial application. Although a popular style for domestic and public architecture, the Mission style is rarely seen on industrial buildings.
State Register 3/8/2000, 5LP.4991
This multi-component site was occupied as early as circa 220 BC through AD 750. Excavation has revealed several bell-shaped pits and slab-lined roasting pits. The site has the potential to provide a better understanding of the transition from foraging to farming, the eventual adoption of pottery, the shift in settlement patterns, and architectural diversity. It is one of the few sites in southwestern Colorado that reflects a Late Archaic / Basketmaker II occupation.
Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad (D&RGW) Locomotive No. 315
479 Main Ave.
National Register, 10/24/2008, 5LP.302.3
Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad (D&RGW) Locomotive No. 315 operated for the Florence & Cripple Creek Railroad (F&CC) and the D&RGW between 1895 and 1949. From 1895 to 1912, as F&CC No. 3, the locomotive and its sister engines played a key role in the development of Colorado’s Cripple Creek Gold Mining District. The locomotive served on the all-important passenger and freight transportation link between mountain mines and valley smelters and settlements, delivering coal and supplies to an otherwise isolated mining district. D&RGW No. 315 is the oldest surviving former F&CC engine. In a second period, 1917-1941, Locomotive No. 315 served southwestern Colorado in the broader context of supporting general development through transportation. During this period trains performed as the principal long-distance haulers of freight and transporters of people. In a final period of operation, 1941-1949, Locomotive No. 315 became a switch engine in the Durango yard, saw the resurgence of passenger traffic from tourism, and participated in the first movie shot in southwestern Colorado. The locomotive is an excellent operational example of a late 19th Consolidation-type narrow gauge steam-powered locomotive. This type of locomotive constituted a major form of motive power used to bring gold, silver, and other ore out of the mountains and to haul food and supplies to the mining communities, as well as transport coal, lumber, and agricultural products so important to the economic success of early Colorado communities. After larger, more modern and sophisticated 20th century locomotives took over the mainline narrow gauge lines, the now smaller locomotives, such as No. 315, spent two or three decades as the workhorses on the mountain branch lines. Its over half-century of operational service attests to the engineering success of No. 315’s design and construction. (2007 photograph.) More information (PDF, 300kb).
Durango High School
201 E. 12th St.
State Register 8/8/2001, National Register 10/20/2001, 5LP.3443
Extensively ornamented with terra cotta, high artistic values are embodied in this three-story, buff brick building. Constructed in 1917, it served as the city’s only high school until 1976. Designed by the Colorado Springs architectural firm of Thomas MacLaren and Charles Thomas, the Classical Revival style building is the only collaborative effort in Durango by these two important architects. (ca. 2000 photograph.)
Durango Main Avenue Historic District
Bounded roughly by 5th St., the Durango and Silverton RR right-of-way, 12th St. & the alley between Main & 2nd Aves.
National Register 8/7/1980, 5LP.304
The district consists of 86 contributing buildings which collectively reflect the late 19th- and early 20th century history and architecture of the downtown area. Since its founding in the early 1880s, with the arrival of the railroad, Durango grew first as a mining supply and smelter center. It soon became a focal point for agriculture and logging in southwestern Colorado. Notable buildings in the district include the 1887 Strater Hotel, the 1895 Palace Hotel, the 1897 Newman Building, and the 1902 General Palmer House. The property is associated with the Mining Industry in Colorado Multiple Property Submission. (Strater Hotel, 1998 photograph.) [Editor’s Note: A fire on February 23, 2008, heavily damaged three buildings in the historic district.]
Durango Rock Shelters Archaeology Site
National Register 2/11/1985, 5LP.1434
Pioneer southwestern archaeologist Earl Morris conducted excavations in 1938 at these two rockshelters, which constitute the type site for dwellings of the Basketmaker II Period of the Ancestral Puebloan tradition. Basketmaker II houses were first identified at these sites.
Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
Durango to Silverton
National Historic Landmark 7/4/1961, National Register 10/15/1966, 5LP.302 / 5SA.14
The narrow gauge rail line, constructed between 1880 and 1882, connected the rich silver mines of the Silverton mining district with the smelters in Durango. The line formed an important transportation link for moving ores to processing centers and supplying the high mountain community with the necessities and comforts of life. From an engineering perspective, the route represents the accomplishments of late 19th century railroad builders who constructed a slender rocky ledge for the railbed through the deep and narrow Animas River canyon. The railroad continues to operate as a summer tourist attraction. Listed under Railroads in Colorado, 1858-1948 Multiple Property Submission.
East 3rd Avenue Historic Residential District
E. 3rd Ave. between 5th & 15th Sts.
National Register 10/11/1984, 5LP.1411
In 1880, Durango was platted by employees of General William Jackson Palmer of the Denver Rio Grande Railroad. East 3rd Avenue, known prior to 1893 as the "Boulevard", remains a prestigious residential area located along the bluffs overlooking the downtown commercial district. The quality of design and the variety of styles establish the district as the best local collection of late 19th and early 20th century residential architecture. The property is associated with the Mining Industry in Colorado Multiple Property Submission.
Florida River Bridge 437A
Rancho Florida Rd.
State Register 12/13/1995, 5LP.3864
The bridge is associated with the development of transportation and commerce in southwestern Colorado, having served as part of the Denver & Rio Grande rail route between Durango and Alamosa. The circa 1887 structure is a well-preserved example of a Pratt through truss, a bridge type important in the history of American bridge building. (1995 photograph.)
8147 County Rd. 203, Durango vicinity
State Register 3/11/1998, 5LP.4872
Constructed in 1884, the house is an example of residential construction by early Animas Valley settlers who established farms and ranches during the late 1870s and early 1880s. This unusual farmhouse is one of a few remaining from this period.
Newman Block / Kiva Building
Main & 8th Sts.
National Register 10/15/1979, 5LP.303
Construction began in 1891 on this three-story sandstone commercial building, which is the only expression of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture in Durango. The building is associated with Charles Newman, an important businessman and politician in southwestern Colorado, and it has played an important role in the commercial development of the region. (1997 photograph.)
805 5th Ave.
National Register 5/4/1995, 5LP.1336
With its corner tower, steeply pitched multi-gabled roof, and prominent decorative porches, this 1890 building is an important local example of the Queen Anne style. It served as one of Durango’s earliest private hospitals from 1913 through 1942 before becoming La Plata County’s first public hospital.
6566 County Rd. 250
State Register 6/9/1999, 5LP.5094
The circa 1884 wood frame house, of Victorian eclectic design, is an early example of residential construction by Animas Valley settlers. Very few homes from this early settlement period still exist.
726 E. 2nd Ave.
National Register 2/29/1996, 5LP.1210
The 1890 Rochester Hotel represents a working class hotel / boarding house typical of the type that catered to tourists, salesmen and long term tenants less affluent that those attracted to Durango’s more elaborate and expensive hotels. The circa 1909 facade and rear expansions illustrate part of the commercial history and successful operation of this century old facility. (1894 photograhp.)
Smiley Junior High School
1309 E. 3rd Ave.
National Register 11/27/2002, 5LP.1411.56
As Durango’s first educational facility dedicated solely to junior high classes, the building served as the city’s only junior high school from its construction in 1937 until a second junior high opened in 1961. Designed by prominent Colorado Springs architect Charles Thomas, this rare local example of the Mission Revival style was the community’s largest federally funded project during the Great Depression. The style is reflected in the brick building’s curvilinear parapets, arched entrance and niches, and decorative grilles. (1996 photograph.)
For information about the State Historical Fund’s participation in the preservation of this property see the Project Snapshot.
State Register 12/11/1996, Additional documentation: State Register 9/9/1998, 5LP.4223
Talus Village is one of only three excavated Basketmaker II sites in Colorado, and the extent of wood preservation at the site allowed for the first complete understanding of Basketmaker II pithouse construction. The site is associated with Earl Morris, a pioneer of Southwestern archaeology, who was one of the first professional archaeologists to conduct scientific research in the Durango area. His work at Talus Village in 1940 marked the end of his site excavation career.