The river gallops past ghost towns and plunges through canyons of quiet before tumbling into the old mining town of Durango. Legend has it that the Spanish christened these waters more than 300 years ago to honor a small band of conquistadors who died on its banks without receiving the sacrament of last rites. They called it El Rio de las Animas Perdidas. The River of Lost Souls. Today, some 53,000 people live in Durango and the surrounding county of La Plata.