Silverton Gold | Full Movie
[ Ambience ] [ Indiscernible Radio Correspondence ] >> Well, Red Mountain is so difficult to keep open because of the size of all the avalanches that we have up there. We've got some really big ones and we run a bulldozer, a D7, up on top of the slide. It's really dangerous for the drivers due to the fact that they're out there plowing the snow. Got to concentrate on keeping the road open to the south, due to the fact that there's less avalanches. We've kind of got to this point of well, what else can happen, you know? We've had mudslides on Red, we've had rockslides that block the road for a couple months.
We've had avalanches, we've had the road, just some of the road disappear into the canyon. To the south, we had the 416 fire. You become this, I don't want to use the word cynical, but you just, it's like-- we live in a place that's environmentally harsh and things are going to happen in the terrain around here that's very rugged. It's not what I'd call a sissy environment by any means. It's very tough and the environment itself, because Silverton sits in a bowl, and we joke about how every way out of Silverton is uphill. >> When the roads are closed, like no one comes, no one goes and you better have an extra gallon of milk.
Like it's damn good, like that's as good as it gets. Last week we had a three plus week stretch where no one goes to the north and you take a week and a half of that and no one was even going south. And it's a really lovely time.
>> The winter is really I think what separates the weak from the chaff. You have to really like snow, you have to like isolation, you have to appreciate, you know, just kind of the real quiet, small town feel of it. And it really is not for everyone. If you need 24-hour Ethiopian takeout, Silverton is not the place for you. >> Apart from there being mines there, there was no reason for a town to be there.
You know, the crux of the whole situation is it would be just a lonely mountain valley had it not been for minerals. There wouldn't even be highway 550 had it not been for minerals. >> I remember one time where they had a big slide come down, the Irene, and they had to walk over it and catch a bus on the other side. The mine used to run a bus from town. And they'd ride the bus up, work, and come back down. And then walk over and ride the bus back into town home.
>> What do we do with ourselves during winter? Things haven't changed all that much. Our predecessors, Otto Mears, the founders, Louis Wyman, they had the same issues. They had to shovel snow. And they had to move snow around.
When I approach it from that point of view, it's almost like a game. Others went through it and prevailed, and we will go through it and prevail. >> We'll say what do you do in the winter, you know? And I tell people we go to meetings. Because we are very invested in our community and we all have to volunteer. And so we have a very robust private life.
It may not look like it. And Silverton is quiet as it can get, especially in the winter. >> And [inaudible], you really get plenty of exercise and you get outdoors. You're not going to work your way down into some strange rabbit hole and go nuts. We're nuts here.
>> When there's snow outside and being able to like trek through the snow to get to school in the dark, just coming back home in the dark as well. >> 2017, when my daughter was born, they were doing a highway improvement project on 550. And there was rock mitigation. So the joke with our sheriff was what if I go into labor and the road's closed? >> If you're here and you get sick and you need to go to the doctor, a lot of times people second guess whether they should go to the doctor. Parents of small children second guess whether they should take their kids in. So you do a lot of just sort of home diagnosing.
Because you just don't have that professional to be able to go down the street to or 20 minutes away. >> Coming into this community has always been a growing experience. There's-- we have people here that are strong individuals. And that's what it takes to get through these winters. We have a wonderful library that is a tremendous help to us for that. And you get used to entertaining yourself.
>> I love the snow. Love the beauty and the quietness it does bring. It's a nice change from the summer, because it is so busy. I mean crossing main street in the summer can be pretty difficult and time consuming versus in the winter you just kind of stroll around at your leisure.
>> Want to make sure you have a little social interaction? You don't even have to make that happen. You just go to the post office or the grocery store. You see your town.
>> And one of the cool things about living in Silverton is there's, you know, only 600 of us that live here year round. So you're kind of forced to interact with people that you might not otherwise and that's kind of cool. You get to know people that are different than you and get their perspective on stuff. >> A problem that comes up, especially in the winters, how do you get along with people who you have very little in common? What I do is I have chosen to limit my conversations with people to the areas of shared values. >> Silverton's always been kind of a rough atmosphere to live in.
But there were a lot more people, maybe twice as many, as there is now. Bigger families. And the school was a lot bigger then. It was a pretty good town. I think the town's probably fancier than it was back then. >> There is great solitude that comes if you don't have to go anywhere and you're able to work in town.
I mean it's like Silverton is this fantastic snow globe and after each storm, it's beautiful and the snow is like sparkly and powdery and I'm not a skier but I just think it's one of the most beautiful places to be. >> And what's hard in Silverton is winter is... Like... You can't like go skiing a lot if it's like so deep. >> Really love it for a summer home, you know. And I can see the appeal of the summer. You know, it's like get out of the heat and whatnot.
But we like it for the winter, too. Because instead of 690 people, there's more like 250 people that are really here year-round. And you know, it's nice and quiet. >> Actually this last winter was probably one of the best I've ever had, too.
I was reading a lot and I was warm and cozy in my house. And I've done a lot of work on my house over the years. And it is really paying off now.
But that's really nice. So I don't-- I swear if the good lord leaves me. >> What makes it hard to live in Silverton is as you get older, the constant snow in the winter gets harder and harder to deal with. We've had some relatively light winters. And really, if my memory's right, winters are a lot lighter nowadays than they used to be when I was a kid. Maybe it was just because I was smaller.
Everyone in town worked at the mines, so it was kind of a given fact that you lived in town, you were probably a miner or worked for government or school. >> My first part of my family to really come to Silverton and work with my father and uncle. They came here in about 1930. '29 or '30. And the jobs were very scarce.
They'd stand in line and maybe 100, 200 men standing in line and there'd be a fellow up the road in a booth and he'd pick one or two and turn 10 away and pick one or two, it was tough. Then a union came to town. And decided that they were going to get their fingers in the pie.
Well there was no pie to put fingers in. And started a bunch of trouble and there were brother against brother and father against son. And it just got very ugly, things going up dynamiting and whatever. So my parents moved to Arizona. There was a job at Ash Peak, Arizona so they got out of here. >> These mines around the state and Arizona and Nevada, Utah that had their own baseball teams.
And so-- and they paid good money, too. And so my dad has heard about Silverton and came to Silverton and hired on at the Mayflower, which had a baseball team. And he was called a ringer.
>> In 1980, I became what's known as a sloshing man, and we won't even go into it, but it's secondary handling a war, but you do a lot of blasting. Because I was a very cautious guy, on my shift I was the high blaster. Which means when they have something real nasty to blow up, they go "Why don't you come and give this a try? Because we're pretty sure at the end of the shift you'll still be alive." And only had to high blast probably three times. Scared the piss out of me each time . >> I worked for Standard Metals for probably a year and a half and that was at the Sunny Side, and then I worked for [inaudible] Bay probably, maybe seven months? At the Sunny Side also.
My last job was the mainline trammer driving 20 and 25 ton diesel locomotives hauling about 100 tons of ore out at a time. The main reason I got out of mining is I had a brand-new baby daughter and I had a couple really close calls that almost got me killed. And I said that's it, I'm done with this.
>> I don't think I'm exaggerating too much. There's like two girls and 250 guys underground. And so we had dances all the time, we had bar fights, you name it. There'd be a band and there'd be like five ladies, and they would be wore out by the end of the night. >> And the guys that came in were musicians and artists and they were tough guys.
And they brought it back to life and they put a live music venue down in the basement. And they put a hot tub down in the basement to give you an idea. Basically if these walls could talk, whether it's from 1910, 1930, 1980, they'd have a lot to say.
And the amount of stories that I've heard personally just about great times being had here, weddings being had here, fights, whatever it may be, is-- that's part of the history. >> Like it was in those days, you'd go visit someone, they'd put a coffee cup on the table and pour it half full of whiskey and that's just the way it was. And you could get in a scrap with a fellow on payday Saturday or whenever it was, and Monday morning you're working alongside him in the same face in the mine and you'd be complaining about what the hell'd you kick me so hard in the ribs for? And but you're working side by side still. It's just the way it was. It was camaraderie like you'll never see again.
>> What was happening back then was the mine was going full tilt boogie. At one point, gold reached 800 an ounce which was unheard of at the time. We had that whole culture, guys who were mostly a little bit younger than us, but they were all miners here. Pretty much rednecks. Which we understood. And we were the new-young hip types showing up doing stuff.
And over the years, the first couple of years, you know, there was a lot of friction. Just culturally speaking. >> I came to Silverton at the point that the mines closed. This was a tremendously difficult situation for those people. Not for me.
I didn't have to deal with coming up with another way to make a living and another lifestyle that was meaningful to me for my generation and generations before me. >> I was asked at a meeting by one of the state people "Well, what do you think you want to do? What would you do for a job? How are you going to survive?" I said well if I was thinking about it, I would shut everything up and move to California. It's simple.
But I want to stay. So we'll figure something out. And we bought them out real fast. And then we just started a slow climb.
And there was four, five, six years where it was very quiet. That's all. >> It was tough. And I tell people and it's the absolute truth that the year after the mine shut down, I cried every morning.
And finally decided it wasn't doing any good so I quit. >> There were picnics and family affairs and lots of social events. And just a tight-knit community that once the last mines closed down, the last mine closed down in the early 90's. Really created a fragmented community.
>> I think the biggest change is you're no longer a family as you were due to the fact once the mines shut down, there was myself and seven siblings and we all lived here, worked here, and through the mine closures, due to looking for work, everybody left little by little. So I'm the last one still living here. >> I think the people, the demographic that you ask about that was hurt the most I think were the kids like between probably the-- about 2nd and 3rd graders until about probably about early high school.
And those kids were just dropped. Because up until that time, people knew and respected that they would grow up and work in the mind someday. And then that was gone. And their parents wound up in the bar drinking all the time. And other things. >> I think people were really shocked.
And when the mines closed, everybody was just going what are we going to do, you know? What can we do? And actually we tried to take some actions. Especially my wife. She formed an economic development group. And instead of just saying oh god, what are we going to do? They tried to do some things. They helped to bring in a ski manufacturer and a snowboard manufacturer through economic development.
>> I mean these were young men who back in the 1920's skid out of the Sunny Side mine. They skid down the mountain and they rode the tram back up. We had lifts of skiing in Silverton back in 1919, 1920. >> Going back in time again, in the 70's, nobody was in the backcountry. There were a couple guys, Himont Semills [phonetic], Terry Moors, who would ski the backcountry.
But it was a big deal. They had to, you know, check everything and everybody knew where they were. And nowadays there's hundreds of people in the backcountry skiing and snow shoeing. >> You see more cars parked in the winter in different areas than I ever did 30 or 40 years ago. It's on top of Cool Bank, Red Mountain's a zoo now.
That's changed a lot of things because there's this-- a lot of people that have moved to the area like Durango, Montrose, places like that that are big backcountry enthusiasts. So there's lots of people coming up to take advantage of San Juan. And it wasn't like that in the 1980's. >> Our skiing is very steep and rugged.
And so we get to ski some really gnarly stuff with a pretty big snow pack most years. And that for me is as good as it gets. I've traveled quite a bit to other places to ski and Silverton is the place where I could spend every day skiing and I'd be fine if it just snowed everyday here, too.
>> What people tend to maybe miss about split boarding sometimes is that it's not just all riding powder downhill, it's 90-something percent climbing up. So, and that's the work that makes the reward that much sweeter. But the process itself is also great, you get out, and you get exercise, you get out in the mountains, get fresh air.
Hopefully you're with some friends and have some nice conversations and enjoy the view and then you get to the top and reap the reward for your work and put your board back together and ride down. And have a beer. >> Bartending in Silverton in the winter is I find to be a lot more fun than in the summer. I feel like it's a lot of more like-minded people. It's not people that get off the train, stay for two hours, and then leave and say they've been to Silverton.
In the winter it's more like people that have worked all day to hike a peak and ski down it and you know, to listen to their experiences and to trade those experiences with other people is-- it's just a better quality, I would say. >> Since Silverton Mountain was established, we've gotten a wonderful group of the Silverton Mountain guides that come in. And so they come in in the wintertime. And so you have this whole, your family's back. Your winter family is back.
And it's just wonderful. Seeing everybody. >> You know you look at Silverton Mountain, for what it offers, it's a double black diamond extreme terrain.
There are no cut runs, there's no grooming. You're basically skiing avalanche chutes. And you need to be prepared to ski in those conditions. It's a true backcountry experience.
It's deep, deep powder or it can be a little bit more challenging type of snow condition. And that in its own right is what makes Silverton very unique. A special place, but it also is, it's just not meant for everybody. And that is okay. >> Just from the sheer volume of people. Pressure on emergency services.
Search and rescue. Ambulance. There's just a lot happening in the backcountry.
>> Search and rescue experiences that are out of this world as far as the intensity that can happen here. I've had three plane crashes in my career. We, you know, while our call volume is low, the intensity of the calls we get and the variety of the calls we get is incredible.
>> I am also a paraglider in town and I don't actually like to fly super far out of Silverton like other folks do because if something goes wrong I'd like to be in Silverton for it. Like for me, I was injured last Saturday and it was a two-hour retrieval for SAR and EMS. And I was lucky that they could even get to me. In the position that I was in and we were just lucky that I wasn't more injured or that any of us weren't more injured. So I would say the worse thing about it is that our access to healthcare is really, really hard. Especially if you're a backcountry enthusiast.
>> Cabin fever is a reality here. We get a little restless and it doesn't seem like it's in the hardcore part of the winter. We're all surviving and we're all kind of going through the same thing, you know, through December and January and February. And then when it starts acting like spring, you know, into March and April, that's when people get really kind of testy and a little bit off, put off. And I think we could use a little more mental health. [ Ambiance ] [ Train Whistle ] [ Ambiance ] [ Train Whistle ] [ Jazzy Music ] [ Applause ] >> You know, when you know that Ken Bowden's back for handlebars because he lives near me, you see his trailer pull in in May, then you know it's summer.
So. >> I thought it was the peach cobbler we wanted. >> It's amazing how here it is, the end of May, and it's still snowing like a son of a gun out.
I lived here in 1992, first time I lived here in the wintertime. And it was one of the heaviest snow years they had. And so every day, you know, shovel your roof, shovel your sidewalk, walk to the post office, get your mail, and I'm not a snow person. To be honest with you. I'm-- I grew up in the desert.
Living in Phoenix in the wintertime and living here in the summertime, how do you beat it? >> The people that come up here from Arizona or Texas, where it's too hot to live, and they come up, and a lot of them do bring their RVs up here and they work in the shop. And. So you have people that have been coming here for let's say since I've been at the library for 28 years, that have been coming the whole time I've been the librarian. And I've watched their children grow. And so that's like you say goodbye to your winter family, who are now river guides, and you say hello to your summer family. [ Singing ] >> Well the relationship between full-timers and part-time residents I think is pretty good.
Although now some people think we go down there and just sit by the pool, which is not the case. A lot of times you feel like a gypsy coming back and forth. It's a lot of work moving your household goods and moving a lot of furniture you've made in the wintertime. And then when you do get back up here, let's see, last eight, nine days I've been shoveling snow. Busting ice. Like everybody else has probably all winter.
>> We did realize that probably our main business then was tourism. The train, which we're very dependent on. Jeep-ing. ATV wasn't quite going-- it was just starting up in the 90s. But it wasn't as crazy as it is now.
But we did realize tourism was our main thing. A lot of the old-timers said "We got to bring mining back." Well, and they also said it's because of the environmentalists that we're not bringing mining back. To me, that's very far from the truth. The reason mining isn't back is it's purely economic.
If it was economic to mine here, there would be mining going on right now. >> I'm a newcomer to Silverton, I've been here three winters. And I moved here from Brooklyn. I'd been there for over a decade. And it's pretty different than Brooklyn here. But, it's different in almost entirely awesome ways.
There are challenges with living in a remote, small mountain town. For example, our grocery run for most of our stuff is 100 miles round-trip over two mountain passes to the south or one mountain pass to the north. The one to the north has no guard rails and is windy with 100-foot cliffs or multiple 100-foot cliffs.
>> We do seem to have calls for tourists coming through, driving through on our highway, that might make a suicidal attempt. Yep. There are multiple calls at the sheriff's department. Some people actually complete the suicide by driving off the highway. And so I just talked with one of the other sheriffs the other day about maybe putting a sign up in that spot. [ Marching Band Music ] >> For one, it's a lot of fun seeing a town full of people.
Of course, it's a lot of stress and you know, you're working all the time. You don't get to enjoy the Fourth like everybody else. >> My first Fourth of July experience would be when I was 13. And I have really fond memories of I got on a float, you know, it was a pretty small town event, that was 1983. And we had some fireworks and we had a parade and it was great. It was a really enjoyable time.
Those are memories. >> The summertime in Silverton, we're kind of used to the growth in tourism has just been, you know, staggering over the last 20 years. It was-- it had a lot of tourists before then.
But now with the train and OHVs and more people using the backcountry, it does feel like we're really kind of under siege there, especially in July. It's almost scary how many people there are in town camping out all over. Setting off fireworks. It's just barely under control there. At some points. So it's a little bit worrisome at times in the summer here.
[ Cheering ] >> And for me personally, I really saw the transition in the Fourth of July parade. It used to be more local, you know, little floats and all of this. And then-- and especially dear old departed pal Flash-- Gordon Bash. He was an old biker and he had a great Fourth of July party for his, you know, biker group, the High Plains Drifters. They always had a great time, they'd lead the parade. They'd start out, you know, here comes the bikers.
And I thought that was way cool. With all the local floats and stuff. Now you look at the parade, it's 95% ATVs, Jeeps, you know, I have no problem with Jeeps, but 95% ATVs. You know, maybe a random local float. [ Ambiance ] >> These days, there's a bit more out of hand [inaudible]. A lot of people truly enjoy it, people come from all over the world to take part of it.
We have a tremendous fireworks display, the largest on the Western Slope. And we send out 16 inch motors which go up a half mile and then explode a half mile wide. And that sound you hear three or four times, it echoes around the mountains.
It's just a pretty amazing fireworks experience. So that's drawn a lot of people over the years. And now we can have 18,000 people in town on the Fourth of July. And so for a small sheriff's office like ours, that requires having great agreements in place with Colorado State Patrol and the BLM and the US Fire Service.
And we bring in all of our reserves, we can have about 27 officers on duty during the Fourth of July, typically to try and keep reigns on the ruckus, partying and whatnot. You know, there'll be people [inaudible] around drunk in packs and getting in bar fights and drag racing down the street, just you know, the wide variety stuff that comes with that many people in place, so. >> For years, approximately 30 years I was doing the Fourth of July appearance at Silverton, and it's grown from being a $1,000 show to a $30,000 show, as well the Ladies' Auxiliary of the Fire Department, we bring in 10 to 30,000 people over a long weekend and those people spend money in town and stuff. >> While we receive a lot of visitors in the summer months, they come in the morning and they tend to leave in the evening.
So, we have time to recover from having a lot of guests. And the evenings and mornings can be completely different from the hours that the train is here. And it is a different place. It becomes quiet and more peaceful and the people who work in the store get an opportunity to go outside and appreciate the other part of living here. >> I like to go out with my dad and take my dogs because it's so small and there's not-- there's a lot of space for my dog to run around. So we keep them off leash and that's really fun.
[ Ambience ] >> Here in Silverton, I like to say, you know, there's the old saying that politics-- all politics is local? In Silverton, all politics is personal. >> Mufflers. I think there should be, you know, a regulation that if you have an ATV here that they got to be muffled.
I mean look, you can hear it right now. It's just, it's obnoxious and I think it's starting to define the town. [ Ambiance ] >> Bringing ATVs and side-by-sides and the little four-wheelers in town was a huge step for this community because a lot of people live here because they like their serenity of the mountains and the quiet mountain community. And other people enjoy hopping on their ATV and buzzing out of town. And I can't tell you how many people come from all over the country, they come up here to bring their side-by-sides and ATVs and four-wheel drive up here and when we opened up the town where they could come into town and eat lunch or get gas or do whatever, they were ecstatic. They were so thankful.
>> In many areas of Silverton we're actually loving our land to death. And you have to find this balance or do you find that balance? Right now our roads are deteriorating in the county because they're overrun with Jeeps and ATVs. The ATVs are much more powerful machines, they have different suspension, deeper treads, more power, and so you have a bigger impact on our roads.
Our roads are in the worse shape they've ever been. It's just-- there are so many people. I think the BLM did a study this past summer and I think they said in July there's like 2,000 people or more a day visiting the Animus Forks.
It just shows you how many people are coming up here in the summers. >> A lot of people are against the amount of traffic that we get. However, I believe since the market has been changing, our county roads that we off-road on and the maintenance and upkeep of keeping those roads available for everybody and trying to minimize the impact a lot from full-sized Jeeps and pick-up trucks and such to the OHV side, the impact that those vehicles create is far less than that of a full-sized vehicle that has larger tires and more weight. And one of the ways that we help minimize that impact, these are-- they can be dangerous roads if you are trying to drive too quickly. And recklessly out there. They're out in the mountains.
So our speed limit is quite low to keep people safe. [ Ambiance ] >> I am not opposed to any of the motorized vehicles. But I have to say that when I'm hiking with my dog and there's a mountain bike, I can't hear them. So, I would say that the most uncomfortable part for me are mountain bikes. I don't want my dog to get injured.
So what I would ask for is just you know, a bell. And then they could ring the bell and then I could get out of the way. >> I think that bells on mountain bikes can be a very good thing. I think opening up line of sight on trail construction is another way that can help different user groups, you know, see each other.
>> In the summer, I like to ride my mountain bike. And there's awesome mountain biking here but it is underdeveloped and most of it kind of expert and extreme stuff. We have a ton of potential for this place to really be a great mountain bike destination where people will come just to ride their bikes in Silverton. >> We could potentially see 30 miles of new trail construction over the next three to five years. That certainly wouldn't make us a mountain bike destination, compared to the likes of Durango, Fruita, Moab, but it certainly would maybe put us, you know, as a stop to some of those people that are traveling to those areas. >> Getting along, there's no problem.
The problem I do see, and this really irritates me, is some of the special interests are thinking they're more important than the other one. Not any one of them are more important than the other. They're all equally important and it depends on the individual's liking. >> Silverton has sort of two groups. Where one wants quiet use, the other wants motorized use and the louder the better.
As we focus on a specific type of use, it is going to tend to create a situation where other people may not want to come anymore. And so I think that balancing is going to be difficult. And we might be teetering on pushing it too far in one direction, where we're going to not diversify our economy but we're going to limit it. >> And I hate it.
I don't like listening to them, I, you know, visually I'm not into the look of it. You know, if I were a king, I'm not and I'm glad I'm not, but if I were, I might keep them in town because I would prefer them to something like Telluride. >> The beauty of Silverton is that it is one of the places left in the United States where we can really kind of make and create our own lives.
So we have our own way that we raise our families and our own way that we educate our children. And our own way that we recreate. And our own way that we come together with multiple perspectives. [ Marching Band Music ] [ Ambiance ] [ Train Whistle Blowing ] >> Well when I close the doors at the end of the summer, it's kind of a good feeling. You got through the season. You know, hopefully you've made some money, paid all your bills.
And you start boarding up the place, getting it ready for winter. And you look forward to going to Arizona, I do. [ Ambiance ] >> Change is in the air. What I see and what my family sees happening is our community has landed its place on the national map. People are learning what we have and what Silverton is all about.
Its beauty, its historical contribution to the West. >> I would definitely like to see mining come back. I know it'll probably never be on the scale it was years ago, but just to come back and be able to employ 25 to 50 people. So there's some employment and different work going on in town. >> A lot of people thinking about Silverton growing and this becoming the next Telluride or not and people are always talking about that. And I think as a business owner in Silverton and as somebody who wants to live in Silverton for the rest of their life and really loves it here, I just hope that we can grow to see our town have residents who live here all year long.
>> But the problem is you're not bringing families to town. And you want families coming to town. You want jobs for them, you want them sending their kids to the school here, you want them for your volunteer organizations. Because we have a very hard time getting folks to volunteer for things because there aren't very many of us. You wear lots of volunteer hats, for sure.
>> I would definitely like to see Silverton get bigger. Not big and nothing like, you know, the mountain towns that everybody loves to hate, but we could certainly stand to grow a little bit, you know, it's 600 people here now year-round. I think if we could have 1,000 people living here, change the-- just the basic fabric of Silverton in a positive way without it selling out or being too big or any of that kind of stuff.
>> Just real hard to make a living in the winter time up here. I don't see a whole lot of growth as far as jobs. >> So I've known a bunch of seniors who have graduated from Silverton. I can't think of one that have actually stayed after college here? I feel like they usually go out and start their lives somewhere in a different place.
>> We're a county with 85% public lands. And probably the least disturbed it's been in forever. I'd hate to see it made more of a wilderness. >> We don't want shacks going up, we don't want lean-tos and junk. But if you do it in a professional manner and a respectable manner, it's a nice-looking home, let them enjoy it. If they can afford to do it, that's their business, not ours.
And we got to stop this tearing each other apart on it and restricting things so much that we can't move. >> I don't have a crystal ball but if you asked me to pretend I had one, I would say that the community's going to be more and more desirable to young families and people who are looking to be able to live, work, and play in the community. And so what does that look like? I think that you'll see expansion and an enhancement of the Kendall Mountain area. And development of biking trails. >> I realize we'll never become Telluride.
But we could get close. And I think the uniqueness of Silverton would dissipate like quite quickly. Not just with the absence of ATVs but that would contribute to it. I think it'd be a more enticing place for people, you know, before long we've got to pave all our streets and you can't burn wood and you sure as hell can't burn coal. >> How do we build up this great community asset that we have? Which right now is functioning more as a community park and a ski area. How do we build that up into something that is a destination or can make Silverton a better destination and complement what we already have going on at Silverton mountain.
Get families here where the more adventurous family members maybe will go up and ski at Silverton Mountain or backcountry and then we can cater to kind of the lower level skiers and riders. >> You know building this ski area would only cost about the price of one or two Telluride homes. The problem with the ski area is how do you make it economical viable once it's built? The threshold for the number of skiers is like 170,000 skiers to make it successful. >> What I would do is I would probably help the town do more backcountry skiing. >> The trouble with tourism is it is low paid jobs, basically. And we as a country turn our nose up at low paying jobs out in these areas like Silverton.
And so people have to be brought in from outside from other countries. And then they have to go. [ Speaking in Spanish ] >> They have to go and like renew their visas and a lot of time they don't get them renewed so that's why they can't come back. But a lot of them, they just go and renew them and they're back on their way, back to Silverton.
>> But if we could add 300 more people to our population, because then you get a-- a mass of people that can support a grocery store, that can support a gas station. >> The old isn't ready to give up and the new is trying to take over, so there's a lot of conflict right now and disagreeing and it don't really benefit either side because nothing positive is being done because there's too much feuding going on. We just need to quit bumping heads. >> I cannot see us ever being a manufacturing anything just because of access. And I would not like to see it grow a lot larger through tourism.
Although I don't know if there's an alternative. I used to like Telluride and now it's a tourist ski area I'm really not fond of that. >> I hope to see some growth here. I hope to see families in our school, I'd like to have-- I'd like to have more students in my classroom and I think it's a real waste of our school to be serving nine students in second and third grade when we could be serving 12 students or 16 students easily without really changing the capacity of our school much. >> Everybody's moving to Colorado it seems and there's only so many people that can fit in Denver.
So they're going to move out other places and I think the best that we can try to do as a community is to try to make sure that we still keep Silverton Silverton. >> I've lived out in the Rockies for almost 30 years now. And I've seen it become more of just a playground for the rich and famous.
And there's few little places that have avoided that. Silverton is at risk of becoming inaccessible to anyone but the rich and famous. But we're not there yet. >> A good percentage of our homes are second homes. There's quite strong feelings in our town about vacation renting, Airbnb, VRBO, that kind of thing. And the feeling that when those homes are used as vacation rentals, it's taking away from the housing stock for local employees.
>> And you know it's changed a lot since I came here 47 years ago. So it's really hard to say what the future might bring. When I first came here, this was really a mining town and very blue collar, and now our focus is tourism and recreation. And so I think the future just is going to be more tourism and recreation. But Silverton people seem to be afraid of change. And I think change is inevitable.
But here our change is very slow. >> You know, how do we build a strong, resilient economic base in this community? And I think we're going to have to put a lot of our differences aside in order to make that happen because we have to embrace all kinds of people and all kinds of businesses and all kinds of recreation. I think recreation is the thing we have in spades here.
>> I am really glad to see some of these young people stepping up to the plate. And realizing that now they have to take over. This is their town. And they're willing to take on the responsibility of running it. And so it's been really very heartwarming. >> Everything is better except there's still only so much land.
We can only handle so many people. And there is a finite limit to it. And that limit may be financial later on, but I don't know. But we don't have the unbridled expanses that can be conquered. Always going to be small and isolated.
>> I think the people that are coming here are younger and they're healthier. I don't think the mine was a very healthy place to live. Or to work. And I think that these guys now, there's been a lot of talk about how should we or should we not advertise as an extreme environment and extreme sports? And I think whether we intentionally do that or not, I think it's just happening.
>> I don't foresee it ever growing due to the terrain that they have here. And tourism, it's just-- since they rely on that so much here in Silverton, I don't know if they're going to be able to keep that going with the regulations that's put on the trains and cars and buses and stuff that have to come in and out of here. >> I feel very positive about Silverton's future.
I don't think our situation here is any different than any place in the outside world. There are always challenges, both economically, politically, issues with development, all of these things that we have to work through. But I'm very confident that we can do that. [ Ambiance ] >> I don't remember the first time I came to Silverton.
I was brought here as a two-year-old. My dad bought a house here for 1500 dollars. And I have now paid more than that in taxes. >> The first moment that I drove in here that this was a power place.
In other words, there was something going on, you can't verbalize it, you can't even, you know, understand it certainly, but it just has a vibe. >> A magical place. It was one of those things that just kind of makes your heart go pitter-patter.
And yeah, I knew that I wanted to call this place home. >> You know, from my point of view, the best thing in Silverton is its isolation. Because I'm an isolationist.
>> At that point, the clouds sort of started to break and rays of light were shining through and it kind of felt like the Monty Python trumpets were sticking out of the clouds. And Silverton was below, lit in this amazing sunlight. And it was really at that point there, standing on top of the world, looking down at this town, that I just kind of knew that why would I be anywhere else but here? >> I would recommend it to other kids to come here.
Because the Silverton school is so good. It's so great. >> How do you get everybody to love each other and the answer to that is you just really, that doesn't happen, except for in beautiful little moments here and there. >> I want to be here.
And for as long as I can say I'll be here. In spite of the problems, despite no money, despite everything, they'll have to cart me off before I leave. >> Coming here, the friendships that I have made with people have been far outstanding and long-lasting compared to the relationships that I had in New Jersey. >> I would say some of the-- some of the best moments that I can remember in Silverton and you can hear my voice cracking have been when there's been a problem. And everybody pulls together.
And you don't find that in many places. [ Marching Band Music ]