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Keep an Eye on the Library Archive

November 2, 2015

As the newspaper headline said, “Salida library is best in the U.S. for size of city.” And who doubts what you read in the paper?

This headline happens to be from 1922. Today’s Salida Regional Library is typically around the 90th percentile in the Library Journal’s annual index of libraries.

And too, the article doesn’t report any objective assessment of libraries but rather a declaration by a visiting Knights of Columbus lecturer: “Salida has the best library I have seen in any place of its size and I have visited nearly every public library in the United States.”

The lecturer, Mr. Peter Collins, “has been on the lecture platform ten years, he has covered 350,000 miles of territory in the United States and he holds the record of having answered more questions than any other publicist in America.”

The newspaper at the time did not use the Oxford comma in that sentence, but presumably Mr. Collins would have.

Joy ran across this little article while scanning old reports about the building of Spiral Drive, which she has posted on the library’s archive website, along with very interesting photos from the Bob Pierce Collection.

You can start at the library website, Then click “The Salida Archive” tab, and then choose “Local Lore,” and then “Spiral Drive.” Or choose another topic, such as “The legend of Loyal Duke.”

Or the one about the “Two Evangelists.” No, they don’t walk into a bar … they were kidnapped at gunpoint in front of the Sherman Hotel at First and G streets. I don’t think it’s so rough a neighborhood now.

In any case, the man with the gun reportedly told the preachers “Salida wanted its women and its bootleg and that we could not stop it.” They were whisked into a waiting car and taken to Wellsville and eventually abandoned. But there’s still more to the story. Take a look.

Joy has been steadily adding fascinating material from the library archives to the website, digitizing photographs, documents, manuscripts, reports.

The “Photo Archive” tab lists 19 photo collections with hundreds of historical photos. For example, the Bob Pierce Collection includes photos of the construction of Spiral Drive and the remarkable puffing steam shovel hanging precariously on the side of the hill. It looks almost Sci-Fi, or Steam Punk, or like something out of the movie “Beetlejuice.”

The other tabs—Collections, Local Lore, Narratives, Histories—include such things as “The Lago-Salida Connection,” a history of Italian Americans in Salida; historic building and architecture surveys; an incomplete but useful collection of old assessor cards (with photos) for Salida properties;

Some older city directories and phone books (the library has many more in print); “A History of Chaffee County Schools, 1860-1986” which is a typescript put together by the Chaffee County Extension Homemakers along with the Western Fremont County Homemakers plus a variety of clubs in the area;

The letters of William Dulles to his father Rev. John W. Dulles in Philadelphia written in 1881 on his trip to, and stay in, Poncha Springs. He had occasion to visit Bonanza, and I’ll let you find and read that part.

Later, he said, “Again I am in Poncha and very glad to be here, for it is a pleasant place, and quite homelike, whereas Bonanza is decidedly the reverse.” But surely Bonanza is more pleasant today.

Of course there’s more. Keep an eye on the library archive—our digital local history will continue to grow.


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