The Baker Party

Baker's Bridge Sign
  • In 1860 Charles Baker led a party of prospectors to the headwaters of the Animas River, searching for gold. After spending the summer searching for gold in Baker’s Park (where Silverton is located today) the group headed south for the winter.
  • They built a log cabin settlement about 30 miles south of Baker’s Park, which they named Animas City. It was about 15 miles north of the future site of Durango.
  • In December Baker received a charter for the Abiquiu, Pagosa and Baker City Toll Road. Hoping to “mine the miners” he anticipated capitalizing on traffic into the mineral-rich San Juans.
  • Abiquiu, in present-day New Mexico, was the nearest supply source for Animas City. Members of the Baker group made improvements to the trail to Abiquiu, allowing wagon travel. The route followed the Old Spanish Trail as far as the Florida River, and entered the Animas Valley at Ute Pass and Spring Creek (near today’s Florida Road).
  • The group built a bridge allowing travelers to cross the Animas River enroute to Baker’s Park and to allow access to the hot spring on the west side of the river.
  • Failing to find gold, Baker and his followers left the area in 1861. The outbreak of the Civil War also inspired the men to return to the east to serve in the military in their home states.
  • White settlers would not return to the valley until 1873. Today’s Baker’s Bridge is located near the site of the first Animas City.

Baker's Bridge

Baker's Bridge. Catalog number: 03.37.1

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