The county seat (1872, 7,882 feet) was founded at a crossing on the often frisky Río Grande del Norte. It supplanted a preexisting Hispanic town of La Loma de San Jose, founded 3 miles to the east in 1859 by Juan Bautista Silva and a settlement party from Santa Fe, New Mexico. Del Norte became primarily an Anglo supply town for the San Juan mining regions, a role enhanced by the 1881 arrival of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad. A visitor information center occupies the D&RG caboose at the corner of Grande Avenue and Spruce Street. Many buildings here use lightweight, tough rhyolite, the volcanic stone found locally in light pink to white colors.
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