The Then and Again trip over the Million Dollar Highway!
The Million Dollar Highway, also known as Red Mountain Pass or a section of Colorado Highway 550, is by my definition the section of pavement that connects Ouray to Silverton Colorado. As a then and again subject I find it quite remarkable how little this road has changed in around a 100 years. I try to remember that it was not too long ago that this road resembled many of our local 4×4 roads such as Engineer Pass. One story of its name (the Million Dollar Highway) claims that the 9 mile section of this road from the town of Ouray to the point when you reach Ironton Park, the most extreme section that climbs up a canyon with darn near vertical walls, was going to be improved to make it more passable by automobiles in the 192o’s. The nine miles was sectioned into 3 parts and contractors bid on the 3 sections. After the 3 contractors where chosen, the 3 bids came to within just penny’s of a million dollars, which in the 20′s was a huge amount of money for a 9 mile section of road. Today they can spend darn near that much on a road sign! The CDOT guy in charge was the one who started coining the phrase Million $ Highway. But my point is that it was improved in the 20′s and I think paved during the 50/60′s and worked on many a time over the years, yet looks so unchanged!
The Million Dollar Highway just past Bear Creek Falls, view of Mount Abram-