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And the West is History: Railroad and Sixth Street business – 1902

German immigrant William Wolf first laid eyes on the San Juan Basin in 1859 as a 22-year-old member of Lt. Simpson’s geological surveying party. He served three years in the Union Army during the Civil War but never forgot the area. After working for a wool merchant in Santa Fe, he returned to the region in the late 1870s to mine in the Needles range. Having lost nearly all his money in the mining venture, he turned to his former profession. In late 1881, he became an agent for the well-known Gruner Hides and Fur Co. in a location at 201 West Ninth Ave. on the west side of the tracks. The business thrived with Wolf becoming owner in the late 1880s. He was very successful in the hide, wool and pelt business and delved into early Durango real estate as well. In 1902, with partners N.F. Cooke and Ernest Wetter, he opened the Wolf Ice and Cold Storage business pictured here. It was located on this ideal lot at the corner of what was then “D” Street and the railroad tracks (today’s College Drive and Narrow Gauge Avenue). It was the first Durango cold storage business to make its own ice. In 1903, the name was changed to the Colorado Cold Storage Co. Wolf sold his share of the business in 1907 and died the next year at the age of 72. The Strater Hotel cupola tower can be seen behind the building. Today, the Mi Ranchito Restaurant and the offices of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and are located in the building. – Ed Horvat for Animas Museum, edhorvat@animasmuseum.org. (Catalog Number: 04.29.32 from the La Plata County Historical Society Photo Collections)