It is clear that Ouray is set up like an old Victorian and Wild West town. Most buildings are over 100 years old, but there are still some of the original 1800's structures still standing to this date. Many of these structures have historic plaques and boards that give insight to the location's history. This includes:
Ouray County Historical Society -1887
(Originally St. Joseph's Hospital)
The Beaumont Hotel - 1887
Wright's Opera House- 1888
County Courthouse - 1888
The Western Hotel - 1891
St. Elmo Hotel- 1899
City Hall- 1900
The Beaumont Hotel is one of Ouray's most prized possessions. It was once known as the most pristine hotel around and one of the first hotels wired for alternating current electricity. The exteriors boasts a traditional wild west flare, while the inside features a mix of Victorian, Queen Anne, and French Second Empire design styles.
According to website, "Built in 1886 at the height of the “Gold Boom,” this lovely old hotel is still known as the 'Flagship of the San Juans." Graciously appointed with sumptuous amenities, the Beaumont Hotel has welcomed such famous guests as U.S. Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover, King Leopold of Belgium, Chipeta, widow of the Ute Chief Ouray, French actress Sarah Bernhardt, actress Angie Dickenson, media megastar Oprah Winfrey, singer/songwriter Jewel, actress Pamala Grier, TV journalist Jane Pauley, pop star Mike Posner and many more.
If you want to discover more about Ouray's history, do not miss the Ouray Historical Society and Museum. he Museum is housed in the original St. Joseph's Miners' Hospital that was built in 1886 and finished in 1887 that was used as a hospital until 1964. Today, it is a museum that has preserved thousands of artifacts from Ouray County amidst this 3 floor, 38 exhibits inside 27 rooms. Outside of the museum are two cabins to showcase the old homesteading days. The museum features countless Victorian era artifacts as well as exhibits displaying its railroad, mining and ranching history. Everything you see in this museum has been handmade, and some discoveries are made about Chief Ouray, who the town is named after.
The museum also sells maps for one dollar that provides a self-guided walking tour of the historic homes in town. The museum also hosts historic evening events and talks.
Hidden behind the recently restored doors of Aspen Drug Store, is a cute and quaint medicinal museum. For those who adore the old apothecary life, be sure to visit this museum to discover an extensive collection of medical and pharmaceutical products, some of which date back to 350 BC. The museum focuses on local and Colorado medicinal history.
Get ready to put on a hard hat, and discover Ouray’s history with a mine tour 1,500 feet into Gold Mountain. This is not open during the winter months due to safety, but it is an excellent way to experience life as a Victorian era miner. Visitors have the opportunity to pan for gold from the panning stream area as well as eat a traditional miners breakfast.
The lit Box Canon sign dates back to 1909, when city council accepted Mayor Charles A. Sperber's presentation to construct a six-feet tall sign that can be seen from all areas of Ouray. According to Mayor Sperber, … “it will attract attention, will be talked about, will advertise Box Cañon and Ouray and will show a progressiveness on the part of the city. It is conceived to be a feature that will bring us more into notoriety of the kind that will prove profitable…”
Box Canon is known as Ouray's own, "Wonder of the World." Box Canon is the culmination of Canyon Creek narrowing, which dumps water over the falls, some saying it pours over thousands of gallons of water per minute. The 285-foot waterfall dumps water into the canyon at rapid speed that visitors can view from the observation deck. Another observation deck is above the falls that also leads through a short mining tunnel. This is one historic site, that features plenty of sights, that is not to be missed.
What is your favorite historic place in Ouray?