05 June 2014


Exploring....Being a tourist where I live.

You know how you can live some place forever and never see the "tourist attractions"?

I have tried to avoid that here and when the girls were younger (and didn't have their own cars) I managed to con them in to many adventures. Some were fun (St. Elmo's ghost town, white water rafting) and some were not (the Great Sand Dunes National Park, the Royal Gorge Train).

But realizing that there are only a few more weeks for my "full time" here in Colorado, I decided to knock out a couple more things that I have wanted to see, but haven't.

Today, Bunny needed my assistance at the Verizon store so I struck a deal.   I would help her get her phone activated, she would take me up "S" mountain and to the Smokestack here in Salida.

"S" Mountain looms over Salida.  Technically the name is Tenderfoot Mountain but it has a huge white S on it,  hence the nickname. There's a little building at the top, windows and door gone.   All the kids have been up there. Even the hubs and the Big Guy have hiked up to the top. But I had never been. Until today.

S Mountain from F Street- Salida, Colorado
photo - ColoradoGuy.com

Up Spiral Drive and thank goodness we didn't meet anyone on the way up.  A narrow, winding gravel road that could have benefited from the installation of a few guardrails.  O well.  We made it.
The wind was crazy but the view was worth it. 

Me, holding on for dear life.
I thought we were going to be blown away up there.
All of Salida behind me.

F Street dead ends into the turn around at the Arkansas River. 
You can see the S on the mountain towards the bottom of the pic.

Bunny, my tour guide for the day, on the steps up to the summit.

After S Mountain we headed to the Smokestack.  This is exactly what the name says- a huge smokestack towering over  a couple of falling down buildings and the surrounding fields. Old and abandoned.  When we first came to Salida, the girls went with their friends and said it was spooky and haunted.  Four or five years later, a few more windows and doors are gone, the space is more open and not so spooky. Maybe still haunted. 

The Smokestack

The actual smokestack is 365 feet tall and was constructed in 1917. At the time it was the tallest smokestack in the world. It's in the area of Smeltertown, west of Salida, and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places back in 1976.  Built by The Ohio-Colorado Smelting and Refining Company to carry the noxious gases away from the smelter, the stack is constructed of beautiful brickwork with a concrete foundation that goes 30 feet into the ground.  The site was contaminated with lead, arsenic and creosote at one time, but has since been cleaned up. 

There are a couple of buildings around the stack and all of it is fenced off to discourage vandalism.
But, as Bunny says, if they really wanted to keep people out, they would repair the fence. 
We snuck in, no problem.

Bunny, breaking and entering.
Actually here we are leaving- but out the same way we came in.

Standing at the base of the smokestack.
Look at all those bricks.

Looking up the inside of the stack.
Again, notice all the bricks.

Inside the little building connected to the stack, looking up.
The stairs up to the second floor have wisely been removed.
But look! The ceiling above is also brick.

The brickwork is phenomenal, marred here and there by graffiti.
The smokestack entrance is on the left, at the back by the stairs.

 An adjacent building, also in disrepair.
Again, brick after brick after brick.

A fun couple of hours, a chance to spend some time with my youngest and have her show me around, with lunch thrown in for good measure.  So happy to finally visit these sites. 

What other adventures can we find? 

Stay tuned...

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