Million Dollar Highway


What's now called the Million Dollar Highway was begun by the Ouray and San Juan Wagon Road Company in 1880 to improve the delivery of supplies to the mines and transport of ore into town. But by 1882, the company was low on funds and area residents were complaining about the slow rate of progress. Otto Mears, a businessman who had earned a reputation for road engineering and construction, bought a majority share in the company and succeeded in completing the road. Constructed on a shelf 500 feet above the floor of the Uncompaghr Gorge, the highway is considered by some to be Mears' greatest achievement and a monument to human ingenuity.

Activity Details

Activity Type:Trips and Destinations
Discipline:Civil
Topic(s):Space/Transportation
Grade:K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
Time:Full day

Fun Fact:The name ""Million Dollar Highway"" applies to the stretch of the San Juan Skyway that follows the original roadbed of the toll road built in 1882-84 by Otto Mears. Some say the ""million dollar"" label refers to the cost of rebuilding the road from 1921-24, while others say it's the value of the gold mine tailings in the roadbed.
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