SHALAKO — The Unrealized Dream

The town of Shalako — In the late 1960s Louis got involved with a company that wanted to find a use for a large piece of land that they owned at the base of the La Plata Mountains just west of Durango, Colorado. With Louis’ help they decided that they would plan a development that would be a combination of a living museum and a western theme park. Over the following years additional property was secured, plans were drawn up, the process of securing environmental impact statements was begun. There were hold ups of different sorts, in planning, financing, and in deciding the company’s exact mission. Shalako, the name of the development, was never the only business that the company was involved in and finally it ran afoul of complications in some of its other business ventures.

A somewhat premature sign in the area near Durango, CO

Ultimately, the town was not built. The land was sold and the dream died. Louis had done a lot to promote the idea over the years; including a note about it in the back of some of his books and discussing its future in interviews. He was never, however, deeply involved in the corporation’s operations. His role was more of a consultant and the founder of the western town idea. After Louis passed away in 1988 the L’Amour family briefly considered working with another group to resurrect the idea. After a great deal of thought they decided that the potentially negative impact of that particular type of development on a wilderness area was not something that they believed in.

Artists Rendering of the Shalako Village Concept

It is a remarkable testimony to the power of Louis’ original idea, however, that people still regularly ask how to find Shalako when they are in the Durango area.

I think of myself in the oral tradition, as a troubadour, a village tale-teller, the man in the shadows of a campfire. That’s the way I’d like to be remembered.