Fire Brigrade- date unknown- Old photo from: ricocolorado.org
Rico is nestled in the heart of the San Juan Mountains
Spanish for "rich," Rico's wealth lies in its mines and the accompanying history.
Located in Southwestern Colorado, the San Juan Mountains are are among America's most beautiful mountain ranges. Rico is in the heart
of these mountains, situated 30 minutes from Telluride (along the San Juan Skyway Scenic Drive) and one and a half hours from Durango.
From Denver, CO - Take I-70 west to Grand Junction, south on 50 to Montrose; continue through Montrose to the 550. Continue south on
550 to Ridgway and then take a right (west) on Highway 62. Follow all signs to Telluride and after 23 miles take a right (south) on Highway
145 at the Telluride turn off, and drive 36 miles over Lizard Head Pass to Rico. This drive takes approximately 6 hours.
In 1833 Antoine Robidoux and a group of trappers searched for beaver along the upper Dolores River. While here, they discovered
evidence that Spanish prospectors had previously processed precious metals in the area. The trappers, however, moved on when they did
not find any substantial deposits of gold or silver.
In the mid 1860’s, prospectors returned to the San Juan Mountains and actively staked claims in the mountains above what is now Rico.
For the next thirty years, access to the Pioneer Mining District was extremely difficult as the land to the south was controlled by the Ute
Indians. In the 1880’s, mining supplies, freight, and settlers came over the mountains from the nearest railroad station in Rockwood north of
Durango, via Scotch Creek toll road.
In 1891, the Rio Grande Southern Railroad arrived in Rico in a route that connected Durango with Ridgway. By 1892, Rico had a
population of nearly 5000 people with twenty-three saloons, two churches, two newspapers, a bank, a theatre, a boarding house, a
mercantile, a brick county courthouse, and a thriving three block red light district.
- Courtesy of the San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway Program
Trappers first worked the valley in 1832-33, taking mainly beaver and other fur-bearing animals. The first gold was discovered in 1866 by
Colonel Nash, a Texan who led a team of 18 prospectors. His work was cut short, and in 1869 Sheldon Shafer and Joseph Fearheiler,
prospectors heading for Montana, uncovered Nash's beginnings. The Utes drove away many initial miners, and the mining rush didn't truly
begin until 1878 when the Utes signed the Brunot Agreement, thus surrendering their land claims in the San Juan Mountains.
Many historic buildings beckon to the history buff, some remaining from the mining boom of the 1880's. Railroad enthusiasts will appreciate
the Rio Grande Southern water tank that still stands along the well-preserved railroad grade at the original Rico depot site alongside the
Dolores River. An historic walking tour booklet and map are available for our guests.
The unparalleled attraction of Rico is her endless opportunities to enjoy mother nature. Climb or backpack in the Lizard Head Wilderness.
Ride mountain bikes on any of the numerous Forest Service roads or single-track trails around town. Ride mountain bikes over Lizard Head
Pass to Telluride. Drive your jeep over the passes to Durango or Silverton. Fish in the Dolores River or any of her tributaries. Ski cross-
country along the river, telemark or snowboard in the endless backcountry, or snowshoe anywhere your heart desires. Rico is a prime
home-base for hunting elk, deer, and bear. Or just arrange for a comfy chair on the deck of your hotel and hang out and enjoy the scenic
Historical information provided by Dara Kinsey of the Rico Sun-Times.
Article from the Rico Bugle
V O L U M E I I - I S S U E 1 0 - O C T O B E R 1 6 , 2 0 0 6 - N O V E M B E R 1 3 , 2 0 0 6 - WWW.RICOBUGLE.COM - F R E E
GHOSTS ON MAIN STREET
Historians refer to Rico as a former ghost town, but some believe that it still is, in more ways than one. Like many other former mining
towns, after the silver bust in the late 1800s, most of the residents picked up and left to find their fortunes elsewhere. But some believe a
few stayed around, and their spirits are still here with us today. Zach is one of those spirits still thought to reside on the third floor of the
Rico Hotel. Legend has it that in his earthly life, Zach was a former bookkeeper for the mining company who lived in the Hotel back when it
was a miner’s boarding house. In one version of events, Zack was found hanging on the third floor after falling into deep despair over
accusations that he was embezzling from his employer.
Another less dramatic version has Zack dying of a heart attack. Either way, the current caretakers and a few guests have sworn they’ve
encountered an eerie presence there. Last year, on the eve of Thanksgiving, Argentine Grille chef Eamonn O’Hara was prepping for the
reopening of the hotel the following day. No one had been in the building for about a month, and at that time, Eamonn was the only one
there. While he was in the kitchen getting the Thanksgiving feast prepared he heard a strange noise coming from down the hall. He
describes it as the noise of a computer connecting to the internet, but no computers were turned on, and until then, he thought he was
“I’d never high-tailed it out of the building so fast before,” says Eamonn. “There was something there, and I didn’t want to meet it!”
Eamonn’s wife, Lynda, who is also the hotel manager, has had a few spooky experiences in the Rico Hotel as well. On several occasions
Lynda and other employees have witnessed strange occurrences like the volume mysteriously rising on the stereo when certain people
enter the building, the coffee filter basket flying out of the machine more than once when the restaurant was slammed, and beds that were
neatly made the day before suddenly tussled like someone was sitting on the bedcovers. Lynda has also had a few late night occurrences
she finds hard to explain. Last fall, while sleeping in the third floor apartment, Lynda awoke to something playing with her feet. She initially
assumed it was the cat playing nocturnal games, but when she realized that the cat was in the other room with her daughter, and the
bedroom door was shut she lay frozen stiff in fear.
Another time, in room 106, the family was asleep when Lynda felt the sensation of levitating off the bed. She tried to yell for her husband
but was utterly paralyzed. When she realized no words could escape, she woke up back and found herself in bed. All of the O’Hara’s
mysterious experiences took place when no one else was staying at the hotel. “There’s definitely something in the hotel,” says Lynda. “I will
never, never, ever spend a night in there by myself.” Fortunately, business has been picking up, so it’s pretty unlikely anyone will have to
stay there alone, but if that’s what you’re looking for, I’m sure they can arrange something for you.
Another other-worldly local has been frequenting the Dey Building, home of the Enterprise Bar and Grill. I’ve definitely seen patrons there
that seem like the undead, they came nowhere close to being spooky. Not spooky like Enterprise proprietor, Mark Sumner’s ghostly visitor.
It was shortly after Mark and his wife Stephany first took over the business last fall, when Mark had his first encounter with the Swede. Mark
was playing a game of pool with a few friends when he turned back towards the door and saw a customer sitting at the far end of the bar,
nearest the door. He called to his wife to tend to the new arrival, but she ignored Mark’s request as there was nobody there. Mark turned
around a second time to see if the fellow had been waited on. He noticed the man was husky and had long blonde hair, an old dirty white
denim jacket and a baseball hat that was flat like the very first ones made.
That all seemed pretty normal, but what he saw next made his skin crawl. When he looked into the man’s eyes, they were all pink – no
irises, no pupils, no whites – just pink. That had Mark spooked pretty good so he asked his pool-mates and wife if they saw this guy, but no
one else did. But they did see something odd. On the stool where Mark saw the specter everyone else noticed the stool cushion was
depressed, like it had some significant weight on it. When Mark turned around to look for the third time, the man was gone and he saw what
everyone else was seeing. A couple months went by before Mark had another chilling experience in the old Dey Building. He was all alone
one evening sitting at his desk, up stairs in the office when he heard the downstairs door open and shut, and followed the sound of
footsteps coming up the stairs.
He then heard someone sit down in the Lay-Z-Boy behind him, but assumed it was his wife Stephany. When he turned around to greet her,
he was extremely surprised to see the very same man who’d come into the bar months before, the man no one else had seen, wearing the
exact same dirty white coat and baseball hat. They made eye contact again and just as before, and again the man’s eyes were totally pink.
Just then, Stephany entered the room, and when Mark looked back, the Swede was gone. Mark hasn’t seen the Swede since then, but
leaves a special room in the basement empty just for him.
Be sure to stop by the Enterprise on Halloween. There are certain to be a few ghosts and ghouls there as they’re throwing a party with live
music and costume contest. Can you think of a better place to spend All Hallow’s Eve than at Rico’s own haunted bar?
The Rico Hotel
Above photo taken from: www.ricocolorado.org
History of the Mining Era Rico Hotel
The Rico Hotel was originally constructed as a forty room boarding house for the International Smelting Company in 1926. During the
'boom' of the 1940's, the boarding house was turned into a hotel. Standing the test of time, the Rico Hotel is a living monument to the
mining era that shaped the town of Rico, Colorado.
In recent years, the Rico Hotel has undergone many major remodels, allowing the building to serve as both a hotel and four star restaurant.
Reclaimed mine materials have been tastefully used in these remodels.
Rico Hotel Mountain Lodge & Argentine Grill
124 Glasgow Avenue, Highway 145
Eamonn and Linda O'Hara
Rico, Colorado 81332
(800) 365-1971 - (970) 967-3000
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