Featured Events


Smokestack Centennial Celebration – August 26

10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., Sat., Aug. 26

Photo of the Smelter Smokestack taken in 1974, the year it was rescued from demolition by the citizen Save Our Stack Committee.

 

Saturday, August 26 is the day for the public to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 365-foot-tall Smelter Smokestack near Salida, according to a proclamation signed recently by the Board of Chaffee County Commissioners.

 

A centennial birthday celebration, sponsored by the Salida Museum, is scheduled for 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., Saturday, August 26, under a large tent at the base of the smokestack.  There will be speeches, birthday cake, hands-on displays of mineral and mining artifacts and live video from drone flights to the top of the stack operated by members of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) class at Salida High School. The class posted a video of their maiden flight at the smokestack in July on the Museum YouTube channel.

 

Author and working historian Robert Autobee will deliver the keynote address: “Standing for Salida—The Salida Smokestack’s First Hundred Years.”  Autobee’s book Highways to the Sky: A Context and History of Colorado’s Highway System, is a useful guide to identifying the state’s historic highway and roadside features.

 

The Smelter Smokestack is located 3/10 of a mile from the intersection of CO 291 and CR 151, which is one mile north of Salida.  Parking for the celebration will be allowed along CR 152 next to the stack.

 

The celebration continues from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. during a fundraiser for Salida Museum at Elevation Beer’s tasting room located at 115 Pahlone Parkway in Poncha Springs.  A special smokestack celebration brew will be on tap and there will be trivia questions with a chance to win some fun museum prizes.

 

The Ohio and Colorado Smelter Smokestack, Chaffee County’s most prominent historic landmark, was part of a large industrial complex served by the railroad and manned by hundreds of workers who lived nearby in the company town of Kortz, today called Smeltertown.  It was said to be the tallest man-made structure west of the Mississippi River when it was topped off November 14, 1917.  Standing on a 30-foot-deep concrete base embedded with steel railroad ties, the free-standing, masonry chimney took less than five months to build using 264 train carloads of brick and mortar.

 

The Ohio and Colorado Smelting and Refining Company began operations here in 1902.  The big stack was the last of several to be built ever higher to dispose of noxious smelter gas.  It quit smoking after three years when the entire complex shut down in 1920.

By 1974 it was scheduled for demolition, but rescued at the last minute by citizens organized as the Save-Our-Stack committee and deeded to the Salida Museum Association.  In 1976, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, representing virtually all that was left of the smelter, which had been a major contributor to Salida’s early industrial economy.

 

For more information, go to salidamuseum.org, or the museum’s Facebook page, or call the museum at 719-539-7483.

 

 


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