Dolores County (1881) originated with a silver strike at Rico, which became the first county seat. The Dolores River, named by explorer Juan Maria de Rivera to commemorate the sorrows of the Virgin Mary (El Río de Nuestra Señora de los Dolores), cuts a miniature Grand Canyon in San Juan National Forest, which covers about half the county. Although mining created the county, it soon became more dependent on farming, ranching, lumbering, and recreation. Dunton, a mining and smelter town, has been sustained by its hot springs resort of antique log buildings. With a uranium boom in the Dove Creek area, the county population peaked in the 1960s at some 2,200.
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