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Otto Mears

Updated 2020-07-02
  • Otto Mears

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    Originally from Russia, Otto Mears arrived in Colorado in the 1860s. Over a long career, he helped establish Saguache, served as a merchant and Indian trader, built a large network of roads and railroads in southwestern Colorado, and played a key role in state politics.
    Otto Mears
  • Mears and Ouray

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    In the 1860s, Mears became the official trader with the Ute Indians. He learned to speak Ute, became friends with Ute leader Ouray (pictured here with Mears), and in the 1870s helped negotiate several agreements that kept the peace in Colorado but resulted in the removal of the Utes.
    Mears and Ouray
  • Million Dollar Highway

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    Today Mears is most often remembered for the large network of toll roads he built through the San Juan Mountains in the 1870s and 1880s. His most famous roads connected Silverton and Ouray to the mining district at Red Mountain in between the two towns. The road, pictured here above Ouray, is now known as the "Million Dollar Highway."
    Million Dollar Highway
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