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Rediscovering Gold on the Million Dollar Highway

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Add to Flipboard Magazine. Fuente: ridermagazine - View all news from this site
Rediscovering Gold on the Million Dollar Highway Rediscovering Gold on the Million Dollar Highway

Rediscovering Gold on the Million Dollar Highway






State Highway 149 heading toward Lake City. Plenty of twists and turns of the neck were required to soak it all in. (Photos by the author)
Years ago my father?s fingers traced the route of a ride on a map of southwestern Colorado, over towns named Cortez, Dolores, Telluride, Montrose and Lake City. Colorado already has a name for part of our route, the San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway. A few years later, my dad and I embarked on that trail. I was riding his Triumph Sprint GT and he was riding his Gold Wing.
Day one, we gassed up in Dolores, home to a replica of the Rio Grande Southern Railroad?s Dolores Station. Gold discoveries in the late 1800s created a boom time for railroads in the San Juan Mountains. Times have changed and left in the wake are the discarded railroad ties, piled high in some places and half-consumed with weeds.
Dad?s Triumph Sprint GT resting on the side of State Highway 149 not far from Creede. I loved riding his so much I bought a used one recently.
The 73 miles of State Highway 145 from Dolores to Placerville are sheer joy. The ride is all high country and sweeping curves, with morning and evening shade from the San Juan Mountains and remarkable scenery that just gets better as you ascend. Towns like Rico (?rich? in English) tell a story that echoes throughout these mountains. Trappers worked the valley in the 1830s and discovered what could only have been prior mining operations by the Spanish. Striking the Enterprise Lode in 1887 made David Swickheimer a millionaire, and four years later the railroad arrived. By 1892, Rico was home to 5,000 people, 23 saloons, three blocks of red light district and two churches. Eight years later only 811 people remained. Once a silver mining hotspot, Rico, Colorado, offers a glimpse into the past, when the discovery of silver put it on the map. Home to three buildings registered in the National Register of Historic Places, Rico gets its livelihood from tourism these days.
Farther up State Highway 145 is Telluride, another mining boomtown of the late 1800s. It sits in a canyon and is favored with a great view of Ingram Falls. My dad didn?t allocate any time for Telluride, so we cruised through the main drag at the enforced 15 mph, made a U-turn in a parking lot and circled back.
Telluride to Placerville is 16 miles of blacktop that flanks the San Miguel River, shades itself in a gorge and surrounds itself with high mountain trees. Placerville to Montrose is more high country riding with plenty of mountain views and light traffic. We pulled into the Red Barn Restaurant & Lounge in Montrose. You can?t miss it?a large cow prominently adorned atop the sign out front will be your beacon. After lunch, it was on to Lake City via U.S. Route 50 and State Highway 149. The last stretch on Highway 149 is idyllic, with the road once again flanking a stream and embraced between mountain walls.
Another former silver mining hotspot, Silverton is a nice stop along U.S. Route 550 when heading toward Ou...
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Rediscovering Gold on the Million Dollar Highway Rediscovering Gold on the Million Dollar Highway

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Fuente de la noticia: ridermagazine
Fecha de publicación: 30-05-2017 22:12
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