Canon City, Colorado

The old Prison Warden's house
The Warden's house

Canon City is another town with a lot of Victorian/Territorial architecture. The area is also home to most of Colorado's prisons and the primary BLM office for southern Colorado.

At the Museum of Colorado Prisons their motto is: "Stop and do time with us!" The Penitentiary Museum, in the original Colorado Penitentiary, is a demonstration of life in an era when justice was sure and swift. Alferd Packer, Colorado's original "Hannibal the Cannibal," was one of the Colorado Penitentiary's more notorious prisoners. It was also convict labor chain gangs who built Skyline Drive, rising some 800 feet above the west side of Canon City, in the early 1900s.

Canon City is the Gateway to the Arkansas River Valley and county seat of Fremont County. The first English European to explore the area was Lt. Zebulon Pike in 1806. At that time he said, "No man will ever cross the Royal Gorge Canyon." Apparently that was the impetus for building the Royal Gorge Bridge many years later.

The coal miners in the area wanted to name the young city "Canyon City" because of its location. A reporter covering the story wrote a tilde over the "n" and transformed Canyon to Cañon, by which name the town was first written into the records in 1861. Canon City was actually founded in 1859 as a commercial center for the gold miners working in the Pikes Peak area.

A. M. Cassaday drilled an oil well 6 miles out of town in 1862 and struck oil at 50 feet. He then drilled several more wells nearby and began the first commercially producing oilfield west of the Mississippi. The kerosene and fuel oil he refined from his wells was freighted to Denver and sold there.

After the big gold discoveries in the Cripple Creek-Victor area, the Shelf Road Toll Road and Phantom Canyon Railroad line were built to bring ore to Canon City for smelting and processing.

These days, much of the business in the Canon City area revolves around the multiple state and federal prison facilities in the area.

The former Raynolds Bank in downtown Canon City, Colorado
The Old Raynolds Bank
Canon City, Colorado
The Canon City Municipal Building
United Methodist Church
First United Methodist Church, on Main Street
Dinosaur Depot
Dinosaur Depot
Whitewater rafters pulling their rafts out of the river
Rafters hauling out in Canon City
Centennial Park
The pond at Centennial Park
Holy Cross Abbey on the east side of Canon City
Holy Cross Abbey

Other sights and sites around Canon city

Peabody House

The Peabody House was built in 1880 by James Clelland and for a while, was home to James Peabody, one of Colorado's governors. The mansion was restored to its original grandeur in 1993 as part of a downtown restoration project. The Peabody House is now occupied by the Canon City Chamber of Commerce.

The Red Rocks Climbing Area on Shelf Road is 12 miles north of Canon City at the southern end of a white-knuckle drive. This one isn't recommended for RV's, campers or the faint-hearted as the road is perched high on the wall of a 4-mile-long canyon. However, the Red Rocks Canyon Park Area offers extensive world-class rock climbing. Featuring over 100 separate climbs, the unique formations in the area give a wide variety and degree of difficulty for rock climbers of all skill levels.

And then there's the famous Royal Gorge, site of the the world's highest suspension bridge. The Royal Gorge is a few miles west of Canon City. It's a place where the Arkansas River has carved itself a very deep and narrow path through some pretty solid granite. There's an excursion train (the Royal Gorge Route) that travels through the bottom of the gorge and a bunch of recreational stuff at the top, including a city park that features the famous suspension bridge. If you have a problem with heights, walking on this bridge is not for you.

Photos are courtesy of TheArmchairExplorer, CCA-by-SA 4.0 License