San Miguel County (1883) ranges from snow-packed mountains on its eastern boundary to arid, high-country plateaus on its Utah border. Its buildings vary from deluxe ski ranches in Telluride to gentlemen's ranches on Wilson Mesa, to working ranches around Norwood. Nearly 75 percent of the population lives in the Telluride area, where recent booms have brought the county population to 4,000, still 1,200 short of its 1900 population. Norwood is the only incorporated town in the entire western two-thirds of San Miguel County.
The county was named after the river, whose headwaters are in the snow-packed mountains above Telluride. The discovery of gold in the 1870s first attracted miners, and gold continued to be the main attraction, augmented by silver, copper, and lead. The Idarado Mining Company, which ultimately owned most mines in the Telluride district, did not close until 1978.
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