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The War With Nature

1918 Influenza Pandemic

The Flu in Silverton

Miner's Hospital, Silverton

Initially, Silverton’s isolation postponed the onset of the flu. When word of the epidemic reached the town of 2,000, schools were closed in early October as a precaution. By the end of October over 125 deaths were reported. The Miner’s Union Hospital (above, courtesy of the San Juan County Historical Society) was full.

City Hall

The City Hall (above, courtsey of San Juan County Historical Society)was turned into a hospital by the local Red Cross. Martial law was declared and citizens were ordered to stay in their homes. Trains were banned and men from the high-country mines were not allowed to come into town.

Silverton lost 10% of its population to the ravages of the flu. Many were younger people in the prime of their life, often with small children. In several cases, entire families perished. As the death toll mounted, the undertaker became ill. Undertakers Ray Goodman of Durango and Chester Black from New Mexico arrived to help. Mass graves were dug at Hillside Cemetery (below, courtesy of the Silverton Standard) to accommodate the deceased.

To learn more about the flu in Silverton, read Jonathan Thompson's article here.

Plaque in Silverton Cemetery

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