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Last updated 3:38PM ET
December 11, 2017
KSUT Regional
KSUT Regional
San Juan County Jail Restoration Moves Forward
(2008-08-06)
The 106 year old San Juan County Jail in Silverton recently reopened, with a new exhibit, after Phase 1 of a restoration project. A grant is being sought to complete the project. (Photo: Ed Locke)
(ksut) - HOST LEAD: San Juan County Commissioners have applied for a state grant to finish restoring the old Silverton Jail, which is now home to the San Juan County Historical Museum.
The museum reopened just a few weeks ago after phase one of the restoration project was completed, and includes a new permanent display.
KSUT's Victor Locke reports.

RICH: WE'VE GOT GOLD SPECIMENS, WE'VE GOT SILVER SPECIMENS, WE'VE GOT LOTS OF QUARTZ, WE'VE GOT RHODACROSYTE, THIS BEAUTIFUL PINK ROCK.
Beverly Rich, when she's not working as San Juan County Treasurer, is President of the San Juan County Historical Society.
The two of us are standing in the basement of the 106 year old San Juan County Jail, surrounded by gleaming new display cases as she describes the 100's of pieces that make up what she says is a world class collection of minerals found in San Juan County.
RICH: THIS IS THE JARAMILLO COLLECTION. AMOS WAS A MINER IN SILVERTON FOR MANY MANY YEARS, DURING THE 1940'S, 50'S AND 60'S. HE COLLECTED ROCKS THROUGH THE YEARS, AND WHEN HE PASSED AWAY HIS FAMILY WANTED IT TO BE ON DISPLAY, SO THEY LET US HAVE IT.
The display opened just a few weeks ago, when the museum reopened after a winter and spring of work to shore up the foundation of the old jail and stop water leaks that threatened the structure.
RICH: WE HAD BROKEN FLOOR JOISTS THAT WE DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT...
Last week, San Juan County Commissioners authorized an application for a 300-thousand dollar Colorado Mineral Impact Grant.
Rich says if it's awarded later this year, the money will help them finish restorating the jail and museum.
RICH: WE WILL BE REPOINTING ALL THE BRICK. WE WILL BE REPLACING OR REPAIRING ALL THE WINDOWS, WE WILL BE DOING SOME PLASTER WORK, PAINTING AND STUFF LIKE THAT. THIS BUILDING, IF YOU REALLY LOOK AT IT IS AN ARTIFACT, AND IT IS AS IT WAS 106 YEARS AGO, IT HAS NOT BEEN CHANGED, AND SO FOR BEING REPRESENTATIVE OF ITS PERIOD, THIS BUILDING IS.
Silverton is one of 20 national historic landmark towns in Colorado.
Rich says saving the jail is paramount to maintaining that status.
RICH: ALONG WITH THE COURTHOUSE AND PROBABLY THE TOWN HALL AND THE LIBRARY, THE JAIL IS PROBABLY ONE OF THE MOST CONTRIBUTING STRUCTURES TO THE LANDMARK DISTRICT. THERE WAS AN ESCAPE, HARD TO BELIEVE IF YOU LOOK AT THE JAIL WITH THE CELLBLOCK UPSTAIRS. SOME MINERS STOLE SOME GOLD FROM THE GOLD KING MINE AND THEIR BUDDIES GOT THEM OUT FROM THE OUTSIDE...THEY GOT SOME BRICKS OUT AND WERE ABLE TO ESCAPE UNDER A WINDOW. YOU CAN STILL SEE THE PATCH FROM UPSTAIRS.
The historical museum in the jail, coupled with the recently opened mining heritage center next door which tells the story of Silverton's mining history, draws an estimated 20-thousand adult visitors and an untold number of children annually.
They allow Silverton, which was founded thanks to mining, to continue to tap into that background to boost the towns desirability as a tourist location and keep the local economy bustling.
From KSUT, Four Corners Public Radio, I'm Victor Locke.
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