Buena Vista, Colorado

Town History

Buena Vista, pronounced "BEW-na Vista" by the local denizens, is a friendly, laid-back town of about 2,700-people. The town developed in the 1870’s as a supply center for miners in the Upper Arkansas Valley and ranchers that had settled along the Arkansas River. By the 1880’s construction of an ore sampling plant and smelter drew laborers to the town. Three railroads, the Denver, South Park & Pacific, the Denver & Rio Grande and the Midland ran through town, servicing mining communities to the north. Freight wagons lumbered along the town’s streets carrying ore from the nearby mining town of St. Elmo. The influx of people created a boom and for a period the town was known for its raucous saloons, gambling halls and brothels.

As with other Colorado mining communities, the demise of the mining industry resulted in a downturn. For a time in the early 1900’s the area was renowned for producing head lettuce. The lettuce boom lasted until 1948 when refrigerated railroad cars allowed West Coast lettuce growers to compete in the local markets. Today tourism, farming and ranching are the town’s mainstays.

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