Ouray had a railroad station that was serviced by the Denver and Rio Grande before 1923 and by the Denver and Rio Grande Western after that date. The station burned to the ground in 1948. But you can see pictures of this station and see the potbellied stove, old manual typewriter and a few other relics from the depot in this exhibit. After 1953 trains no longer came to Ouray. Only the railroad bed (now Ouray County Road #17) on the west side of the Uncompahgre River remains.
Pack trains and wagons were expensive and inefficient. In order to make a suitable profit, mine owners needed to find a better way to transport ore. The railroad was an answer and it arrived in Ouray in 1887, the same year the Miner's Hospital opened. Freight rates were cheaper by rail and the railroad moved the ore faster than pack trains and wagons could. How do you suppose railroads could be built through mountains where grades were steep? Why was track not laid between the towns of Ouray and Ironton, a town in the Red Mountain Mining district south of Ouray? In this room you will see a blueprint of the plan Otto Mears had for building an electric cog railroad where the narrow-gauge railroad could not negotiate the very steep mountainous terrain.