Lots of the railroad history around Central Colorado is fun to discuss and argue about. The great railroad war (1878-1890) was a fierce fight. The contenders were General William Jackson Palmer’s Denver and Rio Grande Railroad versus the Santa Fe Railroad led by William Barstow Strong and Thomas Nickerson. The reader is invited to revisit the sites of the battles.
The first battle: A fine way to look at this site is to take the Southwest Chief passenger rain. As that train crawls up Raton Pass, I recommend getting a beverage and scanning out the sightseer lounge car window. Near the summit there’s still a sign erected by the Santa Fe Railroad. It’s announcing the site of “Uncle Dick Wootton’s place.”
This opening skirmish was fought in the very early morning of February 27, 1878. As the name of his line says, Palmer wanted to build south to the Rio Grande. The Santa Fe coveted the same territory. Read more
During Leadville’s bustling mining days of the late 1800s, the town of Buena Vista was served by three separate railroads and the standard-gauge Colorado Midland arrived last – in 1887.
A steep, uphill buggy ride from Buena Vista gave passengers access to the Midland Depot, which was situated high above town and followed the banks of the Arkansas River. When the Midland was laid, workers had to dig tunnels into the rocky hillside at a point along the road where the valley narrowed in order for the train to continue to follow the route along the river. When this series of tunnels was completed, many folks believed that this was the only spot in the country where a train could be in four tunnels at one time.
More than 100 years later, the days of the railroad in Buena Vista are long gone – the route was abandoned in May of 1922 – but these tunnels can still be seen today. I lived in Buena Vista for about five years, and during that time I travelled the “tunnel road” quite frequently. Read more
Beyond the old brick storefronts in downtown Salida and the ghost of the rail yard, long dismantled, there is still one tall and unmistakable symbol of Salida’s industrial past. This sight is familiar to any traveler entering Salida from the north: the 365-foot smelter smokestack.
In the late 1800s, Western states saw massive growth in the extractive industries to support the needs of Midwestern and Eastern industries. The increased output from local mines spurred development of the Ohio and Colorado Smelting and Refining Company plant north of Salida. The site afforded access to the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad mainline, availability of ore from the region and ready supplies of fuel. The location also saved money by avoiding the shipping costs of sending ore to the Colorado Front Range for processing. The Ohio and Colorado smelter came online in 1902, covering 80 acres on the banks of the Arkansas River. The railroad also enabled the arrival of workers, in the form of immigrants, hoping to get one of the 400 good-paying jobs at the smelter. Read more
The biennial Salida Studio Tour will be showcasing 22 Salida fine artists and crafters in 19 studios inside city limits and the immediate surrounding area of Salida on Saturday, August 12, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, August 13, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This year’s artists are known locally and nationally for their professionalism and high quality of work.
This is a unique opportunity for the public to visit and to share the artists’ hands-on techniques of their creative processes. The free studio tour allows attendees to observe working studios, interact with the artists and view both finished pieces and works in progress. Artists’ works will also be for sale. The Salida Studio Tour is a collaboration of working artists dedicated to promoting, enhancing and expanding appreciation and knowledge of the process of artistic creation.
Amongst the 22 participants are oil painters, photographers, sculptors, a clock maker, a glass blower, a fiber artist and many other talented Salida-area artists. Read more