H I S T O R Y   M U S E U M S, exhibits, and interactive displays
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Ouray County Historical Museum
"best little museum in the west." ... Smithsonian Institute

HUNDREDS OF VISITORS each year revisit the mining boom days of Ouray County in western Colorado at the “best little museum in the west.” The Ouray County Historical Museum received that accolade from none other than the Smithsonian Institute.

The museum is housed in the original St. Joseph’s Miner’s Hospital that was completed in 1887 for the miners and families of Ouray. First operated by the Sisters of Mercy, it served as a hospital for 77 years, closing in 1964.  The Ouray County Historical Society purchased the building in 1976.
Since then, the museum has continued to grow, now offering more than 38 exhibits comprised of historic artifacts, photographs and hands-on displays. All illustrate the fascinating history of Ouray County from the days of its early inhabitants, the Ute Indians, through two World Wars and 20th Century changes.

The museum includes three floors with 27 rooms plus two pioneer cabins and rancher Marie Scott’s carriage. The beautifully preserved building makes use of its alcoves and original hospital dumb waiters to display smaller exhibits.

The enormous array of artifacts date back to Ouray’s earliest days, which began in 1875.  The museum emphasizes mining, ranching and railroading, the three main means of employment in Ouray’s early history.  Original hospital rooms are equipped to show two different eras of medical care.  Displays of early ranchers’ rough implements and upper-class Victorian furnishings show the contrasting lifestyles that co-existed in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Detailed mining exhibits include a walk-through replica of a mine and large gem and mineral collection from local mines.

The museum also features a bookstore, research center, extensive photo archive and the W. Ross Moore Mining History Library of the American West.

Located at 420 Sixth Avenue in Ouray, the Ouray County Historical Museum’s hours are 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Mon. - Sat. and 12 p.m. - 4:30 Sundays, May-15 through Sept. 30.  The museum is open Thurs. - Sat. (same hours) April 15 - May 15, and Oct. 1- mid-Nov.

For more information, visit the OCHS website at www.ouraycountyhistoricalsociety.org, email ochs@ouraynet.com, or call (970) 325-4576.

Ouray County Historical Museum. ©Kathryn R. Burke
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Last updated: November 24, 2010