History Resource Centers

There are seven important locations in Ouray County where historical information is archived and can be researched. Highly informed staff personnel are available at each of these locations to assist people. For more information, Refs. 6, 17, 18, and 20 are recommended.

Ouray County History Museum



The Museum is located at 420 6th Avenue housed in the original St. Joseph's Miners' Hospital that was built in 1886 and finished in 1887. In its early days it was operated by the Sisters of Mercy, all of whom came to Ouray from Durango, Colorado and Omaha, Nebraska. It was a hospital until 1964. In 1971 the Ouray County Historical Society began exhibiting in the building. In 1976 the historical society purchased the building for a museum. There are three floors containing 38 exhibits in twenty-seven rooms. In late 2012, the museum acquired space in the Story Building in the 700 block on Main St. in Ouray to house their entire archival collection of historic books, geology books, maps, documents and vintage photos.

Museum Out buildings at the Museum Museum annex on Main St.


Ouray City Hall and Public Library



The exterior of this elegant building was designed in the style of Independence Hall in Philadelphia. It is located at 320 6th Ave. The first city hall on this site was a brick and stone building which included a jail in the basement and city offices and the fire department on the main floor. From 1901 to 1902, a second floor library was added to the building, thanks to a generous donation by Thomas Walsh, owner of the fabulous Camp Bird Mine southwest of Ouray. Mr Walsh also donated a large collection of rare and valuable books. A photo of the building at that time can be viewed at Ref. 6, pg. 132.

On Jan. 27, 1950, the building was destroyed by fire with almost explosive fury. Only three standing walls of the building were deemed safe, the rest of the rubble was taken to the dump by trucks. The citizens of Ouray made plans and started the reconstruction of the building. By January 1953, the restored building was completed, except for the beautiful facade of the original  building. A photo of the building at that time can be viewed on page 240 of Ref. 6. It wasn't until 1988 that the facade of the building was completely restored. That one building is the repository of the official city records and an extensive collection of historical reference books.

City Hall / Public Library in 2014


Ouray County Courthouse



This historic building was constructed 1888 at the corner of 6th Avenue and 4th Street.  It is the seat of county government and is the repository of county records from its formation in 1877 - the current boundaries of the county were established in 1883. Historical records can be searched at the courthouse or on-line.

The Ouray County Courthouse in 2014


The Ridgway Railroad Museum 



The Ridgway Railroad Museum is located at the junction of U.S. Highway 550 and Colorado State Highway 62. The museum is the repository of  railroad equipment, artifacts, historical data, books and photographs of Ouray County and the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. The Ridgway Visitor Center is also located at this site.

Museum and Visitor Center Railroad Equipment Display


The Ridgway Public Library



The library is located at 300 Charles St.  The Local History section in the library was donated by Ralph and Ricky Lauren - it is the archival repository for the ranching history studies of Ouray County including Log Hill Mesa.

Ridgway Public Library


The Ouray County Ranching History Museum



The museum is currently housed in two lower-floor rooms of the historic Colona Schoolhouse located at the corner Sneffels St. and Whinnerah Ave. in Colona. The rooms have been leased from Colona Grange #259 since July 2007. The museum  moved much of their collection of historic artifacts into these rooms and have had an on-going project since then to upgrade their collection and enhance the displays.

Grange #259 Building in 2014 Entrance to the Grange Hall and OCRHM



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