by Carolina King
About 200 photographs of Ouray County are available to view on the Library of Congress website, and 100 of them are historic.
The bulk of the photos were taken by photographer Russell Lee circa 1939-1940, as part of the work he did as a major contributor to a federal documentary project conducted by the U.S. government for the Farm Security Administration, an agency developed as part of the New Deal.
There are more than 23,000 of Lee’s photographs from that time period on the Library of Congress website, featuring rural, mostly farm scenes from all over the U.S.
Ninety of those are from Ouray County.
A few other photographs from the same time period and also produced for the FSA were taken by photographer Arthur Rothstein.
The FSA photographs of Ouray County feature landscapes, buildings, trains, mine operations, sheepherders and farmers.
There are also photos of Box Canon by Detroit Photographic Company dated 1898.
The other roughly half of the photos featuring Ouray County are more modern, dated 2015 and 2016. Professional photographer Carol M. Highsmith took them as part of a huge collection of more than 45,000 works she donated to the Library of Congress featuring photos from every state in the country.
The collection of Highsmith's Ouray County photographs spans the county from Log Hill Mesa to scenes on the Million Dollar Highway.
To access the preserved history of Ouray County go to the Library of Congress website at loc.gov and do a search for “Ouray County.”