Town of Rico
The Town of Rico is situated in the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado, 35 miles south of Telluride and 38 miles north of Dolores near the headwaters of the Dolores River. Rico sits at 8827 ft above sea level surrounded by 13,000 ft peaks, and is dissected by the Dolores River and Silver Creek. Both residents and visitors love to hike, ski, snowshoe, fish, soak and mountain bike on the national forest lands surrounding Town.
Rico was originally settled as a silver mining camp, and incorporated in 1879. Many historic structures still exist from its heyday in the 1880s and 1890s. In 1893 the Rio Grande Southern Railway first came through town, bringing supplies to the little village and its mines. The historic railroad water tank still stands today, reminiscent of the railroad's vital role in the region's history. The water tank and several mining head frames have been preserved thanks to the hard work of the Rico Historical Society.
Mining activities ceased in 1978, and the population declined to around 60 people. The Town didn't significantly grow again until the 1990s thanks to tourism from the nearby Telluride Ski Resort. Yet the little mountain village has managed to keep it's rustic charm and quirky character, so well so that in 2001 it was featured in National Geographic's ZipUSA column (see http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0103/feature6/zoom2.html).
Rumor has it that at one point in the 1890s the population of Rico was 5,000, although the census puts it around half that. Today about 300 people call Rico their home in the winter, and another 300 call it home in the summer. Ricoans in general are hardy folks who aren't afraid to commute daily over Lizard Head Pass and gather their own firewood. The community's proximity to abundant National Forest trails and former mining roads, backcountry ski terrain, wildlife and frequent social gatherings are all most Ricoans need to keep them happy.
Life might seem remote and maybe a little hard for most on the surface, but in Rico the trials and tribulations are what brings everyone together as a community. People here have to be both self reliant and reliant on each other. It's a 100% authentic sense of community, something that you cannot manufacture, that makes this place totally unique.