Telluride Magazine summer/fall 2016

Page 38





Requiem for the legendary Telluride dive bar

By Rob Story Photos by Gus Gusciora

t was the end of an era. When O’Bannon’s shut its doors on April 4, it seemed to mark a bigger change than just a business closing in Telluride. O’Bannon’s represented the last bastion of the town’s quirky roots as a place where everyone was given a stool at the bar, in a town that has been gentrified and evolved from a miners’ stronghold and haven for hippies into a mountain paradise for urban professionals seeking to escape city life. But throughout, there was this downstairs den of sin, a dark, underground Irish pub where low-brow and high-brow could sit elbow-to-elbow and be treated as equals, paying cash for draft beer and settling their differences on the pool table and darts board. Or pay a buck and roll the dice to win the pot of money, although the winnings were expected to be spent on a shot for everyone at the bar, egalitarian-style. O’Bannon’s, known affectionately as O.B.’s, is not finished. The pub is moving to another spot, and to the most perfectly suited place—the downstairs, cave-like Fly Me to The Moon Saloon across town. But this old building holds within its walls a period in history, a collection of moments, and some wild stories from its 29 years as O’Bannon’s Irish Pub that offer a little perspective on the coming of age of a town. Rob Story has compiled some of the most memorable in this homage:


Customers did the damndest things just to walk through the door. A thirsty Barry Asby— who calls O’Bannon’s “the place where woodsies go when not in the woods”—once pulled his brother’s dirtbike to a halt above the Fir Street stairs that led down to the bar. Unfortunately for him, the dirtbike was electric: It made no sound when stopped. Thinking the powerful machine was off, Barry grabbed the throttle for balance as he dismounted. Oops. The dirtbike and Barry blasted down the stairs. “When I flew past the bar window,” he recalls, “people inside took bets on who the first responder would be.” To enter O.B.’s was to drop into a dungeon. The subterranean cave’s lone window emitted little light, though it offered a nice


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