Although out of favor today, coal was once one of the area’s most abundant resources, providing thousands of jobs around Durango. The smelter was moved from Silverton to Durango in 1880, primarily because of the ready availability of coal nearby. Smelters used high amounts of coal to heat furnaces used in the refining of precious metals from ore. Coal mines existed in Horse Gulch, Lightner Creek Canyon, Wildcat Canyon, Grandview, Hay Gulch, Hesperus and other areas around Durango. This picture taken near Perin’s Peak shows the Calumet Fuel Co. mine. At least 43 miners are pictured as they get ready to enter the mine for the start of their shift. The Perin’s Mine closed in 1926 and was the last large scale coal mining operation in La Plata County until King Coal opened in 1936.
Ed Horvat for Animas Museum, email@example.com