The Denver & Rio Grande Railroad company founded Salida, Colorado, in 1880, abandoning it in intervals after 1950. Originally, however, it was the Ute Indians who made the Arkansas Valley their home. The first written account of this area was provided in 1779 by Juan Bautista de Anza, governor of the province of New Mexico.
The first American to record his visit was Captain Zebulon Pike, who camped near Salida in December of 1806. Pike's Peak is named after Captain Pike. Following his visit, explorers, trappers, and traders passed through the area. It wasn't until the 1859 gold rush to Colorado that the area started to become populated on a permanent basis. By 1875, gold fever had run out, but then came the discovery of large amount of silver near Leadville. In 1880, the railroad arrived and Salida soon became the busy hub of the Rio Grande Railroad. With its central location, Salida became home to the roundhouse, shops, and a railroad hospital.
During the 1950's, railroad employment dropped. Some mining and railroad work remained in the early 1980's, but many commuted to Leadville to mine molybdenum.
Presently, Salida's old brick downtown, once nearly abandoned because of the railroad, is now Colorado's largest downtown historic district. Art galleries, restaurants, and shops beckon travelers from all over the world.
Thousands of outdoor enthusiasts have discovered Salida's mild climate. The Arkansas River, with its world class whitewater, calls to rafters and kayakers, and to the fishermen for its gold medal trout fishing. Hiking the several 14,000 foot peaks found in Chaffee County, bicycling the hundreds of miles of single track, camping, hunting, and golfing are just a few of the many forms of recreation found in Chaffee County.
The Arts Community is thriving as well. Concerts, plays, ArtWalk, and gallery showings dot the events calendar at regular intervals.
From outdoor recreation to the arts to family oriented festivals, Chaffee County is the destination for people from across the globe.