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The Salida Downtown Historic District, roughly centered on the stoplight at 1st and F Street, is the largest historical district in Colorado. It was added to the National Register in 1984. Most of the buildings are brick since long ago fires burned the original wooden structures. Salida had several brick yards to keep up with the demand.
Salida’s business district grew up beside the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad. Then, as transportation needs changed in the later twentieth century, the D&RG decreased train service, and in the 1990s merged with Union Pacific who stopped running trains through the valley. The only remaining evidence of the once-thriving railroad yard is two tracks and the old locomotive shop, now a warehouse. The rest of the area between the river and Tenderfoot Mountain is an empty gravel lot.
Salida is the Chaffee County seat. The 1932 Art Deco courthouse is a couple blocks west of the historic district.
The downtown shops sell antiques, outdoor equipment, jewelry, books, toys, and clothes. The many art galleries feature a range of creations from traditional paintings to highly unusual sculptures. A number of restaurants offer a wide selection of food. The historic district is home to several large festivals, including FIBArk, the long-running celebration of boating on the Arkansas River.