Ouray, Colorado facts for kids

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Ouray, Colorado
City
Ouray, Colorado looking north from Highway 550
Ouray, Colorado looking north from Highway 550
Nickname(s): Switzerland of America
Location in Ouray County and the State of Colorado
Location in Ouray County and the State of Colorado
Country United States
State Colorado
County Ouray County Seat
Incorporated 1884-03-24
Area
 • Total 0.8 sq mi (2.2 km2)
 • Land 0.8 sq mi (2.2 km2)
 • Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation 7,792 ft (2,375 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 1,000
 • Density 965.3/sq mi (372.7/km2)
Time zone Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)
 • Summer (DST) MDT (UTC-6)
ZIP code 81427 (PO Box)
Area code(s) 970
FIPS code 08-56420
GNIS feature ID 0204753
Website www.ci.ouray.co.us City of Ouray

Ouray /ˈjʊər/ is a Home Rule Municipality that is the county seat and the most populous city of Ouray County, Colorado, United States. The city population was 813 at the U.S. Census 2000 and 1,000 as of the U.S. Census 2010. The Ouray Post Office has the ZIP code 81427.

History

Ouray, Colorado-LCCN2008678205
Ouray, Colorado in 1901
D&RGW Ouray station 1940a
D&RGW Railroad station in Ouray, 1940

Originally established by miners chasing silver and gold in the surrounding mountains, the town at one time boasted more horses and mules than people. Prospectors arrived in the area in 1875. In 1877, William Weston and George Barber found the Gertrude and Una gold veins in Imogene Basin, six miles south southwest of Ouray. Thomas Walsh acquired the two veins and all the open ground nearby. In 1897 opened the Camp Bird Mine, adding a twenty-stamp mill in 1898, and a forty-stamp mill in 1899. The mine produced almost 200,000 ounces of gold by 1902, when Walsh sold out to Camp Bird, Ltd. By 1916, Camp Bird, Ltd., had produced over one million ounces of gold.

At the height of the mining, Ouray had more than 30 active mines. The town—after changing its name and that of the county it was in several times—was incorporated on October 2, 1876, named after Chief Ouray of the Utes, a Native American tribe. By 1877 Ouray had grown to over 1,000 in population and was named county seat of the newly formed Ouray County on March 8, 1877.

The Denver & Rio Grande Railway arrived in Ouray on December 21, 1887. It would stay until the automobile and trucks caused a decline in traffic. The last regularly scheduled passenger train was September 14, 1930. The line between Ouray and Ridgway was abandoned on March 21, 1953.

In 1986, Bill Fries, a.k.a. C. W. McCall, was elected mayor, ultimately serving for six years.

The entirety of Main Street is registered as a National Historic District with most of the buildings dating back to the late nineteenth century. The Beaumont Hotel and the Ouray City Hall and Walsh Library are listed on the National Register of Historic Places individually, while the Ouray County Courthouse, St. Elmo Hotel, St. Joseph's Miners' Hospital (currently housing the Ouray County Historical Society and Museum), Western Hotel, and Wright's Opera House are included in the historic district.

Geography

Ouray is located at 38°1′24″N 107°40′20″W / 38.02333°N 107.67222°W / 38.02333; -107.67222 (38.023217, −107.672178), in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. It is about 40 miles (64 km) south of Montrose. It is only 10 miles (16 km) northeast of Telluride, but due to the severity of the landscape, the drive is about 50 miles (80 km). Ouray is connected to Silverton and then Durango to the south by Red Mountain Pass which crests at just over 11,000 feet (3,400 m). The drive along the Uncompahgre River and over the pass is nicknamed the Million Dollar Highway, although the exact origin of the name is disputed. Yankee Boy Basin, located a few miles from town, boasts a beautiful spectacle called Twin Falls.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 0.8 square miles (2.1 km2), all of it land.

Climate

Ouray experiences four distinct seasons. Summers are warm in the day and mild to cool at night with brief thunderstorms often occurring in the afternoons in July and August sometimes resulting in intense, though short lived, rainfall. Autumn is cool and mostly clear with occasional rain. Winters are long and cold—though seldom extremely so—with considerable snowfall. Spring is generally cool with early spring often bringing the largest snowfalls; late spring into early summer (mid-May through late June) is mild to warm and is usually the driest time of year. The Köppen climate classification for Ouray is Dfb.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 864
1890 2,534 193.3%
1900 2,196 −13.3%
1910 1,644 −25.1%
1920 1,165 −29.1%
1930 707 −39.3%
1940 951 34.5%
1950 1,089 14.5%
1960 785 −27.9%
1970 741 −5.6%
1980 684 −7.7%
1990 644 −5.8%
2000 813 26.2%
2010 1,000 23.0%
Est. 2015 1,008 0.8%
U.S. Decennial Census
Ouraybuilding1
Building in Ouray

As of the census of 2010, there were 1,000 people, 457 households, and 283 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,250 people per square mile (454.5/km²). There were 800 housing units at an average density of 1,000 per square mile (363.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 95.2% White, 0.1% (1) African American, 0.4% (4) Native American, 0.8% (8) Asian, 1.9% (19) from other races, and 1.6% (16) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 8.2% of the population.

There were 457 households out of which 26.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.1% were married couples living together, 7.7% had a female householder with no husband present, 6.1% had a male householder with no wife present, and 38.1% were non-families. 32.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.19 and the average family size was 2.76.

In the city, the population was spread out with 21.7% under the age of 18, 28.1% from 18 to 44, 33.2% from 45 to 64, and 17.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 45.1 years. For every 100 females there were 101.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 101.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $36,094, and the median income for a family was $45,313. Males had a median income of $35,217 versus $27,083 for females. The per capita income for the city was $23,127. About 9.3% of families and 8.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.1% of those under age 18 and 6.4% of those age 65 or over.

Transportation

SwitzerlandofAmericaOuray
Switzerland of America sign on the Million Dollar Highway

The nearest airport with scheduled service is Montrose Regional Airport, located approximately 40 miles (64 km) to the north.

US 550 is the only paved road into or out of Ouray. U.S. 550 begins roughly 40 miles (64 km) north of Ouray in Montrose. It runs south to Bernalillo, New Mexico, via Durango, Colorado, and Aztec, New Mexico. The stretch of U.S. 550 that runs south from Ouray to Silverton is known as the Million Dollar Highway.

Travelers should take caution when adventuring to the isolated town of Ouray, Colorado. The roads are winding and run alongside cliffs the majority of the drive. While the roads may be discouraging, the scenery is phenomenal and picturesque.

In popular culture

Ouray County Courthouse in Ouray, Colorado
Ouray County Courthouse where scenes from True Grit were filmed in 1968

In the fall of 1968 the film True Grit was filmed in Ouray County, including some scenes in the city of Ouray and the nearby town of Ridgway and, most notably, the interior of the Ouray County Court House.

In Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged, the protagonist's secret hideaway was in a beautiful valley in the Rocky Mountains called Mulligan's Valley or "Galt's Gulch." Galt's Gulch was inspired by Ouray, where Rand found inspiration to complete the novel, though she greatly expanded the small valley to include her many ideas for the story.

In the television series MacGyver, Ouray is the home of MacGyver's grandfather, Harry. The town and surrounds are used as the backdrop for the first-season episode, "Target MacGyver".

Telluride native David Lavender related his experiences working at the Camp Bird Mine in the 1930s in his memoir One Man's West.

Coors and Chevrolet have both filmed commercials in the area, particularly Twin Falls in Yankee Boy Basin.

Famous baseball pitcher Smoky Joe Wood was born in Kansas City but grew up in Ouray.

The opening scene to the movie Over the Top with Sylvester Stallone runs straight through downtown.


The Netflix original series The Ranch, starring Ashton Kutcher, Danny Masterson, Sam Elliott and Debra Winger is set in the fictional town of Garrison, Colorado, but the opening shot of the town during the credit sequence is of Ouray, and the San Juan Valley just north of Ouray.

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