Silverton, Colorado, lives and dies and lives again by the cycle of seasons. Yet this spirited San Juan Mountain village has one constant, one specter of the past haunting its present. Silverton’s orange and yellow phantom creeps out of the orphaned mines in the surrounding mountains. But this is not another regional ghost story about murdered saloon girls or wronged cowboys.
In short: the old abandoned mines bleed out eight hundred gallons a minute of toxic metal-laden water into the Animas River. The metals and salts flow through Durango, Colorado, into Farmington, New Mexico, and on into the Colorado River.
For Silverton’s future, whether that’s in continued tourism or the return of mining, addressing its pollution catastrophes will ensure long-term sustainability over short-term saving face. And, finally, Silverton has offered itself a touch of that hope.
The New Mexico Mercury has the complete article about the possibility of Superfund remediation around Silverton — big news in these here parts. While you’re there, poke around some other articles, travelogues, opinions, and political cartoons. The Mercury exemplifies a big part of what quality regional journalism can accomplish. I’m proud and honored to contribute to it.