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THE 1880's in Chaffee County Colorado


Chief Ouray of the Ute Indians died of kidney disease.
Remaining non-reservation Utes were forced out of Colorado
onto the Ute reservation in Utah.

In May, the Denver and Rio Grande railroad tracks arrived at
South Arkansas, as Salida was first called. Cleora was bypassed
and a new, 160-acre townsite was laid out by former Territorial
Governor A. C. Hunt, real estate agent for the D&RG who became
head of the Salida Town Company. By June there was a post office
for some 400 residents. By end of summer Hunt's wife suggested
the Spanish name Salida for the new town. A bridge was built
at the foot of G Street to carry a western extension of the railroad
to Gunnison by way of Marshall Pass with a spur to Maysville.
Otto Mears had sold his Marshall Pass toll road to the D&RG
for $13,000. Salida became a major division point on the railroad
with a handsome stone depot located where the tracks diverged.
By summer, with track laid up the valley, a group of Buena Vista
boosters was able to run a train up to Granite at night, make off
with the safe containing the county records and return with them
to Buena Vista, the legal seat of Chaffee County.

  Wellsville was founded with a post office functioning until 1896.
The Wellsville quarries, future home of US Soil, supplied limestone,
gypsum used in cement and tavertine used in the U.S. Department
of Commerce building in Washington D.C.Leadville became Colorado's
second largest city.
1881 Work began on the Alpine Tunnel (under Altman Pass) by crews of the
Denver South Park & Pacific RR. The tunnel opened in 1882.
1881 The D&RG extended a branch line to Maysville.
Sedalia Mine opened and started producing copper until WWII.
Calumet Mine opened and operated until 1899. It produced iron ore
from high grade magnetite, which was shipped to Colorado Coal & Iron
(CC&I) in Pueblo. The mine was served by the narrow-gauge Calumet Branch of
the D&RG, which extended seven miles from the mainline up a very steep
(7%) grade. The Orient Mine over Poncha Pass in San Luis Valley was
served by another branch of the D&RG.
1882 Baxter Stingley served as Marshall until 1883 when he was fatally shot
in a Salida saloon. His reputation for law and order drew a funeral
procession to Cleora cemetery that was reportedly more than a mile
long. Under his orders, chain gangs in Salida had planted trees in
Alpine and Riverside Parks.

1882 After boring the Alpine Tunnel under the Continental Divide, the
Denver South Park & Pacific railroad line opened traffic to Gunnison.
The tunnel operated until 1910 when the cost of clearing heavy snow
became too much for the DSP&P. The tunnel remained open for a few
years longer for seasonal auto traffic, then was boarded up.

1882-85 Calumet City operated its post office.
1883 Monte Cristo Hotel opened in Salida and became famous for its
cuisine and appointments.

The D&RG's line became known as the Monarch Branch when it was
extended beyond Maysville to Monarch.

On Nov.30 Fort Garland closed as a U.S. Army installation and
troops left by train. The fort had served to establish American
presence in the Colorado-New Mexico area since the Mexican War.
Troops stationed at Fort Garland offered protection to settlers from
Indian raids. The list of commandants at the fort over its 25-year history
included the famous frontiersman and Indian agent Kit Carson.


Heywood (Mt. Princeton hot springs) post office was opened.

Craig Opera House burned in a major fire in downtown Salida.
Central School, a two-story brick edifice, was built at 3rd and D Streets. It
was later called Mc Cray School. The cornerstone was laid for the Salida
Academy, a Presbyterian School. It was located at the present location of the present-day Salida High School.


1885 D&RG Hospital was built, then burned in 1899 and was rebuilt the
following year (I think).

1886 Dec. 31 fire destroyed two blocks bounded by F and G Streets and
from First Street to the Arkansas River.

1887 The D&RG railroad promoted itself as the Scenic Line of the World.

Salida's "mesa addition" was developed by brothers J. A. and D. B.
Eddy with east-west streets named for native Americans and cross streets named for the first five Colorado governors.Edison Electric Light Company started supplying power enough for 750 bulbs.

1888 Jan. 2, Salida's greatest fire took two blocks on either side of
F Street north of First Street. It started in the hotel Peter Mulvaney
was building at 2nd and F Streets. The fire burned toward the river to
the Webb and Corbin Building ( now Dakota's restaurant).

1889 Edward W. Corbin died prematurely after being given morphine for
a tooth extraction. He was Mayor of Salida, a successful businessman
and an investor and manager of the Salida Opera House. His house at
303 East 5th Street in Salida, built in 1884, is listed on the National
Register of Historic Places as "the best and earliest example of
Second Empire style in Salida."

Colorado State Reformatory, established in 1889 by act of the State
General Assembly, was built in Buena Vista. Buildings to house inmates
were contained within a wooden stockade. . By 1920 the Reformatory had a
800-acre farm and was raising cattle, sheep and hogs. The facility
expanded in 1937, in 1948 with two new cell blocks and in the 1960s
with the addition of four cell blocks, school, gymnasium and
auditorium. The inmate population grew from less than 100 to more than
one thousand by the 1980s. In August of 1957, one inmate was killed
and several guards hospitalized in a riot in the oldest cell block. By
1980 the name of the facility had changed to Buena Vista Correctional

Woodland Cemetery opened.

Old Newspaper Articles from Chaffee County
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© 2004-2014 Monty Holmes