It was in 1875 that a prospector by the name of John Fallon staked a claim in Marshal Basin close to what is modern day Telluride. It was a year later however that the town actually came into being. The town was orginally called Columbia but because there were other towns that had the same name, so it was decided to call this town Telluride. Tellurides are elements and compounds that are found in rocks and minerals where gold and silver are found so it seemed a fitting name at the time.
As with most old mining towns, their locations were located where the minerals were and very seldom would you find a gold mine out in an easy to get to location. Most of these town were located in narrow valleys besides steep mountains and it was would take days or even weeks to travel to these towns because of the rugged terrain. Telluride was one of these hard to get to towns where there was just a narrow trail and only pack mules could get you to this place. Then in 1881 a fellow by the name of Otto Mears opened a toll road and this allowed wagons and cargo into the town and so it was from this time on that the town started to grow.
In 1891, Otto Mears who ran the toll road into Telluride built a section of a narrow guage railroad into the town. This was cheaper transportation for passengers and freight which allowed miners and goods to flow into the town and ore to flow out to the mills and foundries elsewhere. During this time the town and area grew fast however Telluride almost went bust in the 1893 during the Silver Crisis. Further exploration located additional gold and within a decade, a second mining boom was underway. By the end of the 1890ís there were 204 active mines, 18 mills and 1,300 miners in the immediate area.
There were some fairly large mines that were started in the Telluride district. Mines like the Tomboy, Smuggler Union, Pandora and the Sheridan mines along with several smaller mines. The Tomboy mine however was one of the larger mines. This mine was located a few miles from Telluride at an elevation over 11,00 feet so the mine and had it's own camp. There were a few hundred people who lived and worked at this camp which had it's own store and even had a bowling alley. A daily stage would take passengers into the town of Telluride.Another large mine was the mine by a group of men that they had a dispute with. In 1907, a man was shot and killed at the company store, and the gunman was then shot and killed by the Deputy Sheriff.
These mines were very lucrative and it wasn't long before there were labor strikes with miners wanting higher wages. Of course mine owners were really only interested in profits and not workers pay or comforts. Worker safety was almost non existent and many miners died on the job doing everyday tasks. Then in 1901 a fire broke out at the Smuggler where 22 men lost their lives. This event led to a period of serious labor unrest and violence that spread to other mines in the area as well. This violence led to murder of a few mine guards and even mine superintendents. Bulkeley Wells who was the mine owner of the Smuggler Mine didn't like unions at all. One of the of mine guards William Barney, dissappeared and Bulkeley Wells said the guard had been murdered by one of the miners. All this violence and gunplay which followed were part of an ongoing struggle in the mining communities. All these events became known as the Colorado Labor Wars.
Like most mining towns back in the day, Telluride saw it's share of wild west action in the early days. It was here in 1889 that Butch Cassidy did his very first bank robbery making off with over 24,000 dollars in hard cold cash from a local bank. In 1891 the town of Telluride got electricity from a nearby power plant. This power was used for the town and also power lines were run to the mines. This power allowed the larger mines to convert over to electric and expand their resources by going deeper and becoming more mechanized. In the 1940's the mines started to see mergers and consolidations by the Idarado Mining Company. This company kept mining until the Pandora deposit until 1978.
Today Telluride is a town for skiers and outdoors types who like to mountain bike and hike the hills. Many of the old town building have been restored into fancy cafe's and eateries.