Buena Vista, Colorado

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Town of Buena Vista, Colorado
Statutory Town
Motto: "8,000 Feet Above Average"
Location in Chaffee County and the State of Colorado
Location in Chaffee County and the State of Colorado
Coordinates: 38°49′46″N 106°08′22″W / 38.829332°N 106.139515°W / 38.829332; -106.139515Coordinates: 38°49′46″N 106°08′22″W / 38.829332°N 106.139515°W / 38.829332; -106.139515[1]
Country  United States
State  State of Colorado
County Chaffee County[2]
Incorporated November 8, 1879[3]
 • Type Statutory Town[2]
 • Total 3.4 sq mi (8.9 km2)
 • Land 3.4 sq mi (8.9 km2)
 • Water 0 sq mi (0 km2)
Elevation 7,965 ft (2,428 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 2,617
 • Density 760/sq mi (290/km2)
Time zone MST (UTC-7)
 • Summer (DST) MDT (UTC-6)
ZIP code 81211[4]
Area code(s) 719
INCITS place code 0810105
GNIS feature ID 0189268
Website www.buenavistaco.gov
Buena Vista at the foot of the Collegiate Peaks
Mount Princeton (Colorado) - 2006-05

The Town of Buena Vista is a Statutory Town in Chaffee County, Colorado, United States. The town population was 2617 at the 2010 United States Census.[5]


The Arkansas River Valley and the area of what would become Buena Vista was first settled in 1864 by settlers drawn to the area by the plentiful water which made the land suitable for agriculture.[6] By 1880, the county seat had moved from Granite to Buena Vista, but by 1928 Salida had a larger population so the county seat was moved once again. By 1894, Buena Vista had electricity, telephone service, street lights, parks, cemeteries, and schools.[6] Travelers, speculators, and miners traveling up the Arkansas Valley towards Leadville made Buena Vista a popular stagecoach stop, and railroad depot following the 1890s. While certainly experiencing economic ups and downs, the valley's agricultural economy has made the area more resistant to the 'boom, bust' cycle of mining towns.

Buena Vista is located in central Colorado roughly midway between Salida and Leadville in the Upper Arkansas River Valley at an elevation of 7,965 feet (2,428 m). The area between Buena Vista and Salida is often referred to as the Denver & Rio Grande, South Park & Pacific, and Colorado Midland railroads. Many of the existing buildings of Buena Vista date back to this era, and were built in the 1880s and 1890s.

The name "Buena Vista", Spanish for "Beautiful View", can often be heard pronounced locally as "Biewna Vista". This Americanized pronunciation was specified by Alsina Dearheimer, who chose this name for the town, which was officially selected over other names (Cottonwood, Mahonville) on the occasion of the town's incorporation. Alternate pronunciations include "Bwena Veesta" (Spanish pronunciation) and simply "Biewnie." Many residents simply refer to the town as "BV".


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 2,141
1900 1,006
1910 1,041 3.5%
1920 903 −13.3%
1930 751 −16.8%
1940 779 3.7%
1950 783 0.5%
1960 1,806 130.7%
1970 1,962 8.6%
1980 2,075 5.8%
1990 1,752 −15.6%
2000 2,195 25.3%
2010 2,617 19.2%
Est. 2014 2,734 [7] 4.5%
U.S. Decennial Census[8]
Chaffee County Courthouse and Jail Buildings
Birdseye view of Buena Vista, Colorado ~ 1882

As of the census[9] of 2000, there were 2,195 people, 978 households, and 622 families residing in the town. The population density was 638.6 people per square mile (246.4/km²). There were 1,124 housing units at an average density of 327.0 per square mile (126.2/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 96.81% Caucasian, 0.09% African American, 0.64% Native American, 0.27% Asian, 0.73% from other races, and 1.46% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.74% of the population.

There were 978 households out of which 27.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.2% were married couples living together, 7.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.3% were non-families. 31.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.24 and the average family size was 2.83.

In the town the population was spread out with 23.6% under the age of 18, 5.1% from 18 to 24, 26.7% from 25 to 44, 27.8% from 45 to 64, and 16.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 92.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.8 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $34,800, and the median income for a family was $40,455. Males had a median income of $32,841 versus $25,486 for females. The per capita income for the town was $16,920. About 9.4% of families and 11.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.1% of those under age 18 and 5.7% of those age 65 or over.

Trustees recall election[edit]

Then-Mayor Cara Russell wrote a column for the Chaffee County Times entitled "How big a payoff do you want?", about the pros and cons of a local land development, on October 29, 2008.[10] Several town trustees believed the vote to annex the Cottonwood Meadows development was lost by a mere 21 votes because of the mayor's letter giving both the advantages and disadvantages of the real estate development.

The column prompted five of the six town trustees to present her with a letter of dismissal on November 10, 2008.[11] Russell requested a hearing over her dismissal.[12] Two weeks later, after the trustees determined that this was not the best course of action, having been informed by the mayor's attorney that they could be in violation of the mayor's First Amendment rights and subject to criminal charges, they voted to withdraw the letter of dismissal.[13]

Russell was re-elected April 6, 2010, and resigned on April 20, 2010, to run for Chaffee County Clerk.[14] On April 16, 2010, Russell filed a federal lawsuit against the town of Buena Vista and five town trustees for violation of her First Amendment rights.[15][16]

On July 9, 2010, The Mountain Mail newspaper reported[17] that the trustees denied the allegations and contended that they were, under legal doctrines, immune from the lawsuit. They also contended Russell's public statements opposing the annexation were not protected by the First Amendment. Russell and the town of Buena Vista settled the lawsuit with the town paying an undisclosed amount and issuing an apology for violating her First Amendment rights.[18]


U.S. Route 24 is an east-west highway running from Clarkston, Michigan, to its intersection with Interstate 70 near Minturn, Colorado. Its western terminus is located just 64 miles (103 km) north of Buena Vista.

The short segment between US 50 at Poncha Springs and US 24 at Buena Vista was originally U.S. Route 650, designated in 1926. US 285 was commissioned in 1936 along its present extent from Sanderson, Texas, to Denver, mostly replacing state-numbered highways.

Chaffee County Road 306 leaves Buena Vista and travels west to the summit of Cottonwood Pass (elevation 12,126 feet / 3,696 meters). This road is closed during the snowy months, typically late October to April or May, but when open allows travelers a more direct route to Gunnison and Crested Butte than US 50 crossing Monarch Pass to the south of town.

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "2014 U.S. Gazetteer Files: Places". United States Census Bureau. July 1, 2014. Retrieved January 5, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b "Active Colorado Municipalities". State of Colorado, Department of Local Affairs. Retrieved 2007-09-01. 
  3. ^ "Colorado Municipal Incorporations". State of Colorado, Department of Personnel & Administration, Colorado State Archives. 2004-12-01. Retrieved 2007-09-02. 
  4. ^ "ZIP Code Lookup" (JavaScript/HTML). United States Postal Service. Retrieved September 4, 2007. 
  5. ^ "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Buena Vista town, Colorado". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved June 20, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b http://www.buenavistacolorado.org/buena-vista-colorado-area-history
  7. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  8. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  9. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  10. ^ Russell, Cara (October 29, 2008). "How big a payoff do you want?". Chaffee County Times. 
  11. ^ Mayor column prompts call for her removal. - Chaffee County Times.
  12. ^ Mayor requests hearing on her removal. - Chaffee County Times.
  13. ^ Trustees rescind removal letter. - Chaffee County Times.
  14. ^ Kathy Davis, "Russell to run for county clerk", Chaffee County Times, April 14, 2010
  15. ^ Kathy Davis,"Lawsuit filed against Town of BV, trustees", Chaffee County Times, April 28, 2010
  16. ^ Robert Boczkiewicz, "Ex-Buena Vista mayor sues town", Pueblo Chieftain, May 6, 2010
  17. ^ Robert Boczkiewicz, "Trustees deny Russell's allegations", The Mountain Mail, July 9, 2010
  18. ^ Kathy Davis, "Trustees approve settlement offer for lawsuit", Chaffee County Times, June 1, 2011

External links[edit]