The Battle for Silverton: A Clash of Old and New in a Colorado Mining Town

The Battle for Silverton: A Clash of Old and New in a Colorado Mining Town

A progressive newcomer takes on the old guard in a small mountain community

In the picturesque town of Silverton, Colorado, a clash of ideologies and values has ignited a fierce battle for the town’s future. The pivotal moment came during the town election on April 7, 2020, when Shane Fuhrman, a young, progressive lawyer and adventure skier, defeated the longtime fire chief, Gilbert Archuleta, by a mere 10 votes to become the new mayor. This unexpected victory symbolized a turning point for Silverton, as Fuhrman represented a new era of progress and change. However, for many residents, particularly those from the old guard, Fuhrman’s win signaled the encroachment of outside influences and the fear of losing the town’s unique identity.

A New Generation’s Vision

Fuhrman, at 42 years old, embodied the aspirations of a younger generation seeking to reshape Silverton’s future. Having worked at prestigious finance firms in Manhattan, he returned to his native Colorado with a vision of revitalizing the town. His renovation of the historic Wyman Hotel on Greene Street epitomized this vision. The boutique inn, with its modern and trendy aesthetic, stood in stark contrast to the traditional Victorian-style architecture prevalent in the area. However, with room rates reaching as high as $385 per night, Fuhrman’s critics accused him of catering only to wealthy tourists and contributing to the rising cost of living.

The Fear of Outside Influence

For many longtime residents of Silverton, the arrival of Fuhrman and his progressive ideals signaled the dreaded “T Word” and “A Word” – Telluride and Aspen. These neighboring towns, known for their exorbitant housing prices, luxury developments, and affluent residents, represented a departure from the humble origins of Silverton as a mining community. The fear of losing the town’s authenticity and becoming another playground for the wealthy fueled opposition to Fuhrman’s agenda.

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Economic Diversification or Selling Out?

Fuhrman’s supporters argue that his vision for Silverton is rooted in economic diversification. They believe that the town’s reliance on mining and tourism is unsustainable in the long run. By attracting new businesses, promoting outdoor recreation, and investing in sustainable industries, Fuhrman aims to secure a more stable and prosperous future for Silverton. However, opponents argue that these changes come at the expense of the town’s heritage and traditional way of life.

Bridging the Divide

The battle for Silverton’s soul has created deep divisions within the community. Families and friends find themselves on opposite sides, torn between the desire for progress and the fear of losing their town’s essence. The challenge lies in finding common ground and fostering dialogue between the old and new residents. Some community leaders have begun initiatives to bridge the divide, emphasizing the importance of preserving Silverton’s history while embracing opportunities for growth.

Lessons from the Past

Silverton has weathered many storms throughout its history. From the boom and bust of the mining industry to natural disasters, the town has shown resilience and adaptability. As the current battle rages on, it is essential to draw inspiration from the past and learn from the mistakes and successes of previous generations. By honoring the town’s heritage and embracing innovation, Silverton may find a path forward that respects both tradition and progress.


The clash between Shane Fuhrman and the old guard in Silverton represents a microcosm of the broader struggle faced by many small communities across the country. The tension between preserving tradition and embracing change is a delicate balancing act. As Silverton grapples with its identity and future, the outcome of this battle will have far-reaching implications. Regardless of the outcome, the town’s ability to come together, acknowledge differing perspectives, and find common ground will ultimately determine its fate. Only time will tell if Silverton can navigate this challenging terrain and emerge stronger and more united than ever before.

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