OURAY COUNTY – Officials with the Ouray County Historical Society and Ouray County Sheriff’s Department paid a visit to damaged property associated with the historic Guston Depot on Red Mountain last week.
The property in question is located on the Little Annie Claim, and is owned by Ouray resident Tommy Campbell.
OCHS museum curator and railroad historian Don Paulson had originally described the damage as “vandalism” when he came upon it while leading a guided hike of the historic Silverton Railroad grade earlier this month. However, closer investigation showed that what had occurred there was “inadvertent damage,” according to Ouray County Sheriff Junior Mattivi.
“It wasn’t done on purpose,” Mattivi said. “He (Campbell) was trying to clean up the area.”
Campbell had driven a Caterpillar bulldozer along the old railroad grade, widening it and pushing the remnants of the depot platform in a heap off to the side.
Mattivi said that Campbell, upon learning of the widespread concern about the wrecked depot remnants, indicated an interest in working with OCHS in the future to protect other historic relics on his property.
“He was just concerned that people would go up there on the property, and if they got hurt on it, he’s liable,” Mattivi explained.
Campbell has already developed several cabin claims in the area, Mattivi said. “He wants to build one more cabin, but didn’t say where.”
The Guston Depot was built in 1889 as part of Otto Mears’ famous Silverton Railroad, connecting Silverton to Ironton Park. The railroad served the Red Mountain Mining District, where some of the richest silver mines in the state were once located, including the Yankee Girl, National Belle and Guston Mines.
In its prime, the Guston Depot structure consisted of a passenger shelter and 20-foot long loading platform. Part of the platform was all that remained of the original structure before it was bulldozed and obliterated.
Much of the Red Mountain Mining District was preserved a decade ago by the Red Mountain Project, which has placed more than 9,000 acres of land into perpetual conservation easements. The Guston Mine complex, however, is still mostly privately owned.