406 W Hwy 50, Salida, CO 81201



Salida Museum Resources – Heart of the Rockies History

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Old Newspaper Articles from Chaffee County:

History Lessons from Earle Kittleman

Browns Canyon District:

United States Fluorspar, Inc. was a major producer in the Brown’s Canyon district along the Arkansas Rift zone north of Salida, Chaffee County, Colorado.  The major producer in this district was Colorado Fluorspar Mines, which controlled most of the mines.  Other producers were American Fluorspar Corp and Kramer Mines company’s Last Chance Mine.

Most of the district lies on west side of Arkansas River across from Hecla Junction, which today is a river put-in site named for the railroad junction no longer in service.

The deposits were discovered and developed beginning in the 1920s.  From 1924 through 1944, 85,000 tons of fluorspar worth $5 million left the district.

United States Fluorspar and Manganese, Inc. acquired deposits in September 1945 from the Chaffee County Fluorspar Corporation.  The deposits where at the north end of the district about a mile northwest of the Colorado Fluorspar Mines.

Because of foreign competition, all of Brown’s Canyon district fluorspar mines were out of business by 1960 and the equipment in the mills was scrapped.  The railroad stopped running in 1997.

This information comes from the article “Brown’s Canyon’s Fabulous Fluorite Fling” by Beth Simmons, 2010 Mining History Journal. Go to link:

The current property owner of most of the mines in the Brown’s Canyon fluorspar district is Allied Chemical Corp., General Chemical Division.  This is according to US Mines and Mine Companies website at:

Out of Commission Locomotive Shop:

My understanding is that the large building across the river from the Touber Center was erected by the Denver & Rio Grande railroad (D&RG) and served as a locomotive repair shop sometimes called a back shop.  The building is vintage, from 1923.  It was first erected by the railroad in Pueblo.  Then it was disassembled and hauled to Salida and bolted back together again and used as a back shop.  Source:  Trails Among the Columbine: A High Country Anthology: Salida, Colorado 1991/1992. Sundance Publications, Limited; Denver, Colorado. ©1992, pp. 236, 238, 240, 310, 313, 314.

The building is labeled LOCOMOTIVE REP. SHOP on an engineering drawing of the train yard that appears to be dated 1955.  See photo below.

Just to the southeast of the back shop was a roundhouse for standard gauge and narrow gauge engines.  The roundhouse is no longer there.