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The City of Durango is the county seat and the most populous municipality of La Plata County, Colorado, United States. It is home to Fort Lewis College. The United States Census Bureau reported a population of 16,887 in the 2010 census.
The town was organized in September 1880 to serve the San Juan mining district. The Denver and Rio Grande Railroad (D&RG) chose the site on the Animas River for its depot following a brief and most likely perfunctory negotiation with Animas City, two miles to the north. The city was named by ex-Colorado Governor Alexander C. Hunt after Durango, Mexico, based on his favorable impression of that city resulting from a scouting trip undertaken on behalf of William J. Palmer, the head of the D&RG.
Area archaeological sites on the State and National historical registers include:
Durango is located at 37°16′N 107°52′W at an elevation of 6,512 ft (1,988 m). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 6.8 square miles (18 km2).
According to the Köppen climate classification system, Durango has a warm-summer, humid continental climate (Dfb). The average annual precipitation is 19.33 in (491 mm). Its hardiness zone is 5b.
As of the 2000 census, there were 13,922 people, 5,492 households, and 2,603 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,052.4 people per square mile (792.8/km²). There were 5,819 housing units at an average density of 857.8 per square mile (331.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 86.84% White, .5% African American, 5.51% Native American, 0.74% Asian, 0.11% Pacific Islander, 4.12% from other races, and 2.17% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 10.31% of the population.
There were 5,492 households out of which 22.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.2% were married couples living together, 9.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 52.6% were non-families. 31.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.23 and the average family size was 2.83.
In the city, 16.6% of residents are under the age of 18, 26.1% from 18 to 24, 27.2% from 25 to 44, 19.4% from 45 to 64, and 10.7% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 29 years. For every 100 females, there are 104.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 103.8 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $34,892, and the median income for a family is $50,814. Males have a median income of $31,812 versus $25,022 for females. The per capita income for the city is $19,352. 17.2% of the population and 7.3% of families live below the poverty line. 11.2% of those younger than 18 and 8.9% of those 65 and older live below the poverty line.
Main Avenue is a Nationally Registered Historic District that cuts through downtown Durango and is home to galleries, boutiques, restaurants, bars, and other businesses. Two notable and historic hotels, The General Palmer and The Strater, lie at the south end of the avenue, near the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad depot. With its combination of historic architecture, entertainment, and shopping, Main Avenue has historically comprised the center of Durango and is a popular year-round tourist destination.
Durango is known worldwide for the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, a heritage railway that travels from Durango to the historic mining town of Silverton, Colorado via steam-powered trains. The history of the town and the D&SNG are inextricably woven, dating back to the 1880s.
The Animas River Valley begins in the heart of the San Juan Mountains and runs through downtown Durango. It boasts gold medal fly fishing waters and is popular for whitewater rafting, kayaking and canoeing. On warm summer afternoons a popular diversion is to buy an inflated inner tube and float from Animas City to Schneider Park or below.
Purgatory Resort located 25 miles north of downtown Durango has 99 trails, 12 lifts, a vertical drop of over 2,000 feet, and more than 1,500 acres of skiable terrain. The resort features lodging, ski rentals, shopping, and dining. Purgatory is also a popular summertime recreation destination.
Durango is home to Snowdown an annual midwinter event popular for its Parade of Lights and other events.
Music in the Mountains is an annual classical summer music festival with performances at Purgatory Resort, Ft. Lewis College, in downtown Durango, and Cortez.
The annual Durango Ragtime & Early Jazz Festival features noted musicians from around the country. It is held in the Strater Hotel, a historic Victorian hotel in Durango.
Durango has a number of media outlets which include The Durango Herald, 99x Durango, The Point, KDGO, XRock 105.3, KDUR 91.9/93.9, Four Corners Broadcasting (KIQX 101.3, KRSJ 100.5, KKDC 93.3, and KKDC AM 930) and many others.
Durango is served by U.S. Highway 160 (the Old Spanish Trail), running east-west and U.S. Highway 550, running to the north and south. Part of U.S. 550 offers high-speed access (primarily a 4-lane, divided highway) to Albuquerque, New Mexico. North of Durango, 550 is nicknamed the Million Dollar Highway, and is part of the scenic San Juan Skyway.
Durango is served by a major regional airport for southwestern Colorado — Durango-La Plata Regional Airport (actually located near Ignacio). Durango-La Plata County Airport (IATA code: DRO) is serviced year-round by regional carriers SkyWest Airlines (United Express), Republic Airways (United Express), Expressjet Airlines (United Express), SkyWest Airlines (US Airways Express), and American Eagle (Envoy Air).
As of 2014, regional connecting hubs to DRO include Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), and Denver International Airport (DEN).
Durango Transit provides several loop bus routes that serve the community, including Fort Lewis College. Normal hours of operation are M-F from 6:30 am to 6:30 pm. Ignacio Road Runner provides bus service to the nearby towns of Ignacio and Bayfield with four trips daily on weekdays and one on Saturdays. Both services share the new Durango Transit Center (opened August 2010) as a hub.
Greyhound Bus Lines formerly served Durango, but following budget cuts the service was discontinued. As of 15 July 2014, Road Runner Transit (a service of Southern Ute Community Action Programs) has restored daily bus service between Grand Junction and Durango.
Durango is served by the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.
Durango has two sister cities, as designated by Sister Cities International:
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