N 38.446800, W -105.228305
Settled by the Anson Rudd family in 1860, Cañon City quickly became a regional center for commerce. The Arkansas River and its numerous tributaries provided ample water for agricultural, residential and industrial uses. Farms, ranches and orchards flourished in the fertile soils along the river. Silver and gold discoveries in the surrounding mountains provided a ready market for Cañon City farmers and merchants.
Wagon roads and railroads proved critical to Cañon City’s success. Wagon and stagecoach roads stretched south to the silver mines near Westcliffe and Silvercliffe and northwest to the silver and gold mines of Alma, Fairplay and Leadville. In the late 1870s, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad (AT&SF) and the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad (D&RG) arrived in town. With the gold discoveries in Cripple Creek, a group of Cañon City businessmen quickly financed and built the Toll Road (Shelf Road) in 1892. When the Railroad was built up Phantom Canyon in 1894, which proved more efficient connection than the wagon road. Cañon City still managed to get a piece of the action by convincing the Railroad to build a branch line inot Canon City and share facilities with D&RG in 1899.
Today, Cañon City’s downtown historic district contains eighty-one buildings that reflect the town’s prosperity between 1870 and 1930. Downtown offers a variety of shops, restaurants and galleries.
Listen to a narration about Canon City: