Cleora, CO

Cleora was the first station east of Salida on the Rio Grande's Royal Gorge Route.

Use of the site goes back to a rancher named William Bale. Sometime between 1866-1869, he built a two-story hotel and saloon on the property to capitalize on stage coach traffic headed for the silver boom in Leadville?. Around ten years later (Jul-Aug 1878), Santa Fe men working in advance of the railroad laid out a town around Bale's hotel. They named it after his daughter, Cleora Bale.

When the Rio Grande won the right to use the Royal Gorge route at the end of the Royal Gorge War?, they built through Cleora in 1880 but set up their own townsite two miles to the west - Salida. As with many places, the Rio Grande stood to make little money selling land in an existing town and therefore located their station on nearby, but unoccupied land. Salida prospered, and Cleora withered away as a town by 1885. However, the railroad maintained a stockyard? and a water tank? at the site.

Cleora continued to be a significant stockyard? on the Rio Grande, handling the narrow gauge to standard gauge transloading of stock coming out of the San Luis Valley, the Gunnison Valley, and the Western Slope. Even with the loss of the narrow gauge stock traffic, it continued as an official station name through the mid-1960s.

Today, the stockyards are still there (though not served by rail), and the water tank base survives.

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  Last modified on October 25, 2011, at 02:51 PM
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