Durango was organized in September 1880 by the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad (D&RG) to serve the San Juan mining district. The town became an important supply and transportation center for the remote region. By the 1890's Durango had also risen to prominence as the regions smelting center. During the post World War 2 Uranium boom Durango was the site of a uranium mill that operated from 1942 until 1963.
Today Durango is a bustling tourist town that has transitioned from a mining hub to the recreation gateway of the San Juan mountains. The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad has operated continuously for more than 125 years and now brings trainloads of tourists to the alpine mining town of Silverton.