Silverton is mining town whose remoteness makes it one of the best preserved towns of the Old West. The Million Dollar Highway is a twenty-three mile drive which took us over forty minutes. Multiple switchbacks and the beauty of the San Juan Mountain Range slowed the drive considerably. Silverton sits on a flat meadow in the bowl of an old volcanic caldera. The surrounding mountains are over 14,000 feet high. The original buildings of this mining town are well preserved, including hotels, restaurants and bordellos, which are now hotels, shops and restaurants. The Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad still runs here, and the shops are full of railroad paraphernalia.
We especially enjoyed the purple Grand Imperial Hotel which opened in 1882. The lobby features a larger than life-size portrait of Lillian Russell painted by Joseph Imhoff, an ornate iron staircase, a mirror-backed reception desk, a tin ceiling, and a wonderful Remington bronze. The Painted Lady Saloon is the place Sheriff Bat Masterson snagged outlaw gangs, and Bat left a bullet hole in the 100 year old carved back bar. Looks to me like old Bat was a pretty bad shot though, since the bullet hole is almost at the ceiling.