Once a railroad town… Salida was once a railroad town, where Rio Grande had a large dual gauge yard, two roundhouses, company hospital and many other functions necessary for a busy division point. Narrow gauge trains from the main line over Marshall Pass from Montrose, as well as limestone trains off of Monarch Pass and Valley trains from over Poncha Pass would end their runs here. Of course, the Rio Grande’s “broad gauge” main line over Tennessee Pass between Pueblo and Salt Lake City passed through this locale, trains pausing to change crews.
With abandonment of the narrow gauge main lines west of town in the mid-1950s, only the line to Monarch survived, now converted to standard gauge. Passenger train “Royal Gorge” paused here at the Rio Grande station, and eventually terminated here from 1964 until 1967 when the train was discontinued. Pueblo crews changed at Salida until 1974 when the crew district was moved west to Minturn. After the abandonment of the Monarch Branch in 1984, the yard didn’t have much reason for being, and the station soon succumbed to the wrecking ball too.
Rio Grande, and later, Southern Pacific continued to run trains over the line, but through trains ended soon after the Union Pacific takeover in 1997. A local still trundled through town from Canon City to Malta and return, until March 8-9, 1999, when it too made its last run, picking up some gons and a lone Grande gold boxcar in the yard on it final eastbound run. Then the yard was silent and empty…
Today, the railroad through Salida is hardly visible. In this view looking northwest on June 4, 2018, is the main line and signal at the east end of the siding. The yard is not much more than a couple of empty overgrown tracks and some a bare spots like those seen off to the sides. Salida is still an vibrant and important place, it’s just not a railroad town anymore.