Hillside remains of Eureka. Photo: johnwise.com
Eureka is a former San Juan mining town, situated on the Animas River in southwest Colorado. It’s tucked between Silverton and Animas Fork.
Located at 9,862 feet above sea level, the town was built in the middle of two mountainsides to lessen the avalanche danger. Gravel roads from Eureka and various remnants can be found littered around. The original jail, which has been restored, is the only building still standing in town.
The old Sunnyside Mill’s foundation is present on the hillside. The mill was built using material from the Gold Prince Mill in Animas Forks, when it was moved to Eureka. You can see the foundation of that mill in Animas Forks.
Camping is common along much of the Alpine Loop Byway, including around the town of Eureka. If camping, please use existing campsites and leave the area cleaner than you found it. Take only pictures.
Placer golf was discovered in the area in 1860 by Charles Baker, which began the mining camp. Him and his prospects had to leave in 1861 due to a US Treaty with Ute Indians, who took back the land. But in 1873 when more gold was discovered near Silverton, miners came back to the area.
An 1873 Brunot Treaty, allowed the miners to stay, in return the Utes got $25,000 per year for giving up 4 million acres. Things quickly picked up in Eureka and by 1875, the town had its own post office. The railroad came to town in 1876, when the Silverton Northern Railroad connected it to the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad.
While it grew slowly, it was never considered a boomtown. At one point it did boast “the finest saloons anywhere” on its main street. In 1939 the population rapidly declined when the Sunnyside Mill closed.
From Silverton – It’s located on the Alpine Loop Byway, nearly 20 miles northwest of Silverton. Take Highway 110 north out of town, following the scenic byway. After passing Animas Forks, head 3.5 south on County Road 2 until you reach Eureka.
Nearby Towns: Silverton
County: San Juan
Season: Summer, Fall