In the late 19th and early 20th century, before the invention of the mechanical refrigerator, food was kept cool with blocks of ice, which was delivered in the summer months by wagon to the housewives of Ouray County. The Ouray Museum has a 12” x 12” x 2” cast iron horse tie used by a Ouray ice deliveryman. He would throw the horse tie on the ground and tie his horse to it while delivering ice. Often the home icebox would have a door on the outside of the house for the iceman to place a block of ice without entering the home. Ouray children would be sure and be home when the ice was delivered so that they might get a small piece of ice from the deliveryman.
Ouray Colorado Vacation Guide and Trip Planning Information for SW Colorado
From Mining to Ranching to Soaking in Natural Hot Springs; The Beauty of Ouray County is Everlasting!
The Ute Indians arrived in what is today known as Ouray County about 1300 AD to find a land formed some 35 million years ago by firs and ice. Immense volcanic eruptions resulted in deep, lava formed craters. The most recent Ice Age scoured the mountain valleys, carving great amphiteatres, cliffs and peaks. the Utes valued the Uncompahgres based on abundant wildlife, plentiful streams, and of course the natural hot springs. For ages, the Ute tribe lived in harmony with the land.
Ouray County is home to a wild and rich history of the American West. In the late 1800s in Southwest Colorado, there were miners and ranchers and hotel operators as well as merchants, travelers, and immigrants moving through the area in search of the American Dream. Although remnants remain, many on display at the Ouray History Museum, each summer, the Ouray County Historical Society pieces together an interesting array of lectures to bring the Old West back to life through the use of pictures and story tellers.
Experience the Vibrant Past of the San Juans!
The history of Ouray County is resonant with all of the elements of a good western novel. Settled in the 1800's, Ouray is one of very few towns boasting such spectacular original Victorian Architecture undamaged by natural disaster, and maintained with so much love. Until the early 1960's, Ouray was the booming center of a huge mining community, filled with miners, saloons, churches, hotels, entertainment of many sorts, and its own hospital.
The town is named for Chief Ouray, of the Ute Indian Tribe, and also has the prestige of reaching a peaceful settlement with the Native Americans in the area. With such a rich and engaging history, it is no wonder there are such wonderful museums, celebrating Ouray County with contagious passion.
Southwest Colorado History Comes Alive During the Summer in Ouray
Just because it is summer doesn't mean you can't be learning! Throughout southwest Colorado and especially in Ouray and Ridgway, Colorado history buffs as well as Western Heritage neophytes revel in a treasure trove of historic sites, museums, educational programs, and guided tours throughout the region.
The Ouray County Museum is a treasure of memorabilia from the last 150 years of Colorado history. It has 27 rooms on display including a replica of an old mine, a blacksmith shop, a mineral collection, an old jail cell and many others. It also includes countless historical photos from its rich archive along the walls and through the corridors of this three story museum. Plan to spend at least one hour touring their vast collection, although I have never spent less than 2 hours walking through.
When one thinks of businesses in Ouray County, milk dairies do not instantly come to mind, but one hundred years ago dairies were very important to Ouray County. Many of these dairies were small with only a few cows. They sold their milk to the larger dairies that sold directly to the public using their own milk as well as milk bought from the small outfits. In 1900 the Ouray Herald reported that there were a half dozen large dairies in Ouray County.