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Carbondale, Colorado

Community Legacy

As one enters this valley from the junction of the Crystal and Roaring Fork rivers in sight of Mt. Sopris today, so too did Colorado’s First People, the Northern Ute tribe.

With the discovery of gold and silver near Aspen in 1879, prospectors and settlers poured into the Roaring Fork Valley to establish mining claims, cattle and sheep ranches, and potato farms on the fertile river bottom land.

Carbondale became a depot of the newly developed railroad in 1887, and mining, railroad construction, and farming attracted a steady stream of new residents. This began a cycle of economic spurts and downturns.

Through all these cycles of booms and busts, the town maintained a sense of community—and today, the arts, culinary experiences, public radio, and celebratory gatherings and events are at the foundation of Carbondale.

Did you know that The Thompson House is one of the few historic house museums in the country featuring contents authentic to its original pioneer ranching family?

Myron Thompson, who lived among the Ute Indians built the house in 1885 for his daughter Hattie and her husband Oscar Holland. The house, then known as the Holland House, was the hub of the Pleasant View Ranch, one of the largest ranches in the Crystal River Valley and the center of social activity in Carbondale. Social gatherings often included prominent individuals, including John C. Osgood, the wealthy coal baron and founder of the village of Redstone. After Oscar’s death in 1920, Hattie continued the ranching operation and in later years traveled around the world, returning from her trips with unusual items and elegant furnishings that are on display in the house. When in Carbondale, don’t miss the chance to explore this cultural heritage treasure, which is open to the public during the summer for guided tours!

Did you know that every spring and fall cowboys still drive their herds right through the center of town?

Cattle ranching is an integral part of Carbondale’s history. The wide open valley and fertile lands were ideal for raising cattle, establishing the foundation for a vital local economy. Today the town is still surrounded by ranches and the cowboy tradition is alive and well. Every Thursday, from June through August the Wild West Rodeo takes place at the Gus Darien Arena. Cowboys and cowgirls come from far and wide to compete in team roping, barrel racing, and bull riding. Even the local youngsters get involved with the calf scramble and mutton bustin’. This time honored western tradition and award winning event is fun for the whole family.

Did you know that Carbondale was once the potato capital of the United States?

Carbondale’s climate and fertile soil yielded an abundant supply of potatoes, a profitable cash crop for local farmers from the late 1880s to the 1940s. During both World Wars, tons of potatoes were shipped out to feed American soldiers and the prized red McClure Potato developed in Carbondale, was sent East to upscale restaurants such as Delmonico’s in New York City. Every fall the town celebrates Potato Day in Sopris Park with a community parade and pit-barbecue. Today, Carbondale is known for its commitment to the arts: acclaimed three-day Mountain Fair in July, a year round open air Art Around Town sculpture collection,the Performing Arts Center, and first class theatrical productions performed by Carbondale’s award-winning Thunder River Theatre Company. In 2012 Carbondale received the prized Governor’s Arts Award.

Did you know Carbondale is located at the confluence of two rivers, and crowned by the majestic 12, 953 foot Mt. Sopris?

In addition to a rich cultural heritage, Carbondale offers spectacular scenery and outstanding outdoor recreational opportunities, including hiking, biking, fly fishing, hunting, rafting, kayaking, and cross country skiing, as well as easy access to miles of bike and pedestrian trails and pathways.


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