David Yarrow

The Gold Digger Saloon (9/12)
Archival Pigment Print
51.50 x 74.50 in
Price on Request
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This tableau, shot high in the San Juan Mountains, is a personal celebration of Telluride’s extraordinary transition from tough mountain mining town to famous playground.

 

Other towns in Colorado have, of course, morphed from hosting miners to hosting skiers - no more so than Aspen - but Telluride’s transition was much later and the emergence of a bohemian counterculture came late and without warning. It was not just the speed of change that distinguished Telluride from other resorts, it was the fact that mining and skiing, for a brief period, coexisted.

 

The relative isolation of Telluride delayed the introduction of skiing until 1972, but remarkably, in those bohemian days of hipsters and freewheeling hedonists, the mines of Telluride remained operational. The visual contrast between the old timers and the new generation must have been stark at every level.

 

The mines have long since closed, and Telluride is now a second home for many Americans who love the grandeur of the mountains and the isolation and the understated charm of a fabled town. But perhaps what is most special about this place is that it was only recently that two subcultures united to make one and there is therefore a sense that the DNA and vibe of the town is entirely unique. It does not pay to have an elitist attitude or look down on people in this town: it is open to all.

The photograph was taken in Schmidt Ranch - the same destination that Quentin Tarantino shot his western masterpiece - The Hateful Eight. I felt that the photograph had to be printed in colour, in part because of the 70s styling of the VW girls, but also in full recognition of Telluride’s very colourful past.