Cañon City, Colorado
Cañon City, Colorado
|City of Cañon City|
Climate Capital of Colorado
Gateway to the Authentic West
|Coordinates: Coordinates: |
|County||Fremont County seat|
|Incorporated||April 3, 1872|
|• Type||Home rule municipality|
|• Mayor||Ashley Smith|
|• Total||12.404 sq mi (32.127 km2)|
|• Land||12.392 sq mi (32.095 km2)|
|• Water||0.012 sq mi (0.032 km2)|
|Elevation||5,332 ft (1,625 m)|
|• Density||1,383/sq mi (534/km2)|
|• Front Range||5,055,344|
|Time zone||UTC−07:00 (MST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−06:00 (MDT)|
81212, 81215 (PO Box)
The City of Cañon City is the home rule municipality that is the county seat and the most populous municipality of Fremont County, Colorado, United States. The city population was 17,141 at the 2020 United States Census. Cañon City is the principal city of the Cañon City, CO Micropolitan Statistical Area and is a part of the Front Range Urban Corridor. Cañon City straddles the easterly flowing Arkansas River and is a popular tourist destination for sightseeing, whitewater rafting, and rock climbing. The city is known for its many public parks, fossil discoveries, Skyline Drive, The Royal Gorge railroad, the Royal Gorge, and extensive natural hiking paths. In 1994, the United States Board on Geographic Names approved adding the tilde to the official name of Cañon City, a change from Canon City as the official name in its decisions of 1906 and 1975. It is one of the few U.S. cities to have the Spanish Ñ in its name, others being La Cañada Flintridge, California; Española, New Mexico; Peñasco, New Mexico; and Cañones, New Mexico.
Cañon City was laid out on January 17, 1858, during the Pike's Peak Gold Rush, but then the land was left idle. A new company "jumped the claim" to the town's site in late 1859, and it put up the first building in February 1860. This town was originally intended as a commercial center for mining in South Park and the upper Arkansas River.
1860s to 1900
In 1861, the town raised two companies of volunteers to serve with the Second Colorado Infantry during the American Civil War. This regiment fought in skirmishes in nearby New Mexico and as far east as the Indian Territory (Oklahoma) and Missouri before ending its organization in 1865.
In 1862, A. M. Cassaday drilled for petroleum 6 miles (10 km) north of Cañon City, close to a known oil seep. Cassaday struck oil at the depth of 50 feet (15 m), and he completed the first commercial oil well west of the Mississippi River. He drilled five or six more wells nearby, and he refined kerosene and fuel oil from the petroleum. Cassaday sold the products in Denver.
Cañon City is located in eastern Fremont County at  at an altitude of 5,332 feet (1,625 m). It sits primarily on the north side of the Arkansas River, just east of where the river exits from Royal Gorge. It is bordered to the south by the unincorporated community of Lincoln Park. Via U.S. Route 50, Pueblo is 39 miles (63 km) to the east and Poncha Springs is 62 miles (100 km) to the west. Colorado Springs is 45 miles (72 km) to the northeast.(38.446800, -105.228305)
Climate Capital of Colorado
The city's nickname, "the Climate Capital of Colorado", derives from the combination of unique geography and 5,300-foot (1,600 m) elevation protecting the city from harsh weather conditions. The average daily high temperature in January is 14 °F (7.8 °C) warmer in Cañon City than in Grand Junction, even though the elevation of Cañon City is higher.
|Climate data for Cañon City 1991-2020 normals, extremes 1893-|
|Record high °F (°C)||80
|Average high °F (°C)||49.4
|Average low °F (°C)||18.4
|Record low °F (°C)||−24
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||0.55
|Average snowfall inches (cm)||6.7
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)||3.7||4.7||5.6||6.8||8.4||7.4||11.6||12.0||6.5||5.4||4.5||4.1||80.7|
|Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in)||3.4||3.9||3.0||2.1||0.4||0||0||0||0.0||1.0||2.5||3.8||20.1|
|Source 1: NCEI |
|Source 2: Nowdata |
As Cañon City has grown, the city has both annexed surrounding communities and developed new subdivisions to create the city that exists today.
- Dawson Ranch
- Eagle Heights
- Fireman's Bluff
- Four Mile Ranch
- Gold Cañon
- Orchard Park
- South Cañon, a historic neighborhood located on the west side south of the Arkansas River
- Sunrise Mesa
- Western Meadows
- Wolf Park
- Five Star Mobile Home park
Parks and recreation
Cañon City is home to many city-owned parks, as well as parks owned by the Cañon City Area Recreation and Park District.
- Centennial Park, commonly known as "Duck Park"
- Denver & Rio Grande Western Park, commonly known as "Depot Park"
- Greydene Park
- Magdalene Park
- Margaret Park (originally Margarette Park)
- Mountain View Park, home of the city's skate park
- Red Canyon Park, a 500-acre (200 ha) park located 10 miles (16 km) north of the city
- Royal Gorge Park, home of the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park
- Rudd Park
- Temple Canyon Park
- Veterans Park, known for Entertainment in the Park concerts during the summer
Cañon City Area Recreation and Park District
The Cañon City Area Recreation and Park District, commonly called the Rec District, was created in 1965 to better serve the community's recreational needs with parks, the R.C. Icabone Pool (a public swimming pool), a dog park, an archery range and a ropes course along with a rec district office with a community room.
The following parks are operated and owned by the Rec District:
- John Griffin Park, located near the Sell's Avenue Trailhead of the Riverwalk
- Harrison Park, the former playground of the former Harrison Elementary School which had been relocated to a newer, larger school building housing both elementary and middle school students
- Pathfinder Regional Park, a joint-managed park located in the county between Cañon City and Florence
- Rouse Park
In addition, the city maintains the Tunnel Drive Trail, a four-mile long out-and-back trail that follows the course of an old irrigation canal. The trailhead is located at the west end of Tunnel Drive, just inside the city limits.
The Guy U. Hardy Award for Service to Outdoor Recreation was created in the name of Guy U. Hardy to recognize people in the community who "help preserve, protect and advocate for providing outdoor recreation opportunities." Hardy had a significant impact on outdoor recreational opportunities in the Royal Gorge area.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the 2020 census, there were 17,141 people residing in the city. The population density was 1,312.1 people per square mile. The racial makeup of the city was 95.4% White, 1.0% African American, 0.6% Native American, 0.1% Asian, and 1.5% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 10.2% of the population. There were 7,448 households, out of which 22.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them. The average household size was 2.05.
The age distribution was 22.6% under the age of 18 and 24.6% who were 65 years of age or older. Women represent 52% of the population.
Along with a police department, sheriff's office and detention center, and a municipal court, Cañon City is home to the courts for Fremont County and the 11th Judicial District of Colorado. It has been described as "America’s cheeriest prison town".
The area being situated along the Arkansas River has allowed for soil suitable to orchards, ranching, and farming, but has largely grown to rely on the large number of state and federal prisons in the area, as well as to tourism, education, manufacturing, medicine and many other sectors.
Cañon City depends on the Colorado Department of Corrections and federal prison system, and its tourism industry which includes the Royal Gorge Route Railroad, Royal Gorge Bridge and Park, Red Canyon Park, The Abbey winery, and various other attractions. The major local employers include downtown shops, the entrepreneurial TechSTART initiative that attracts major technology-based entrepreneurs, and Centura Health (owner of St. Thomas More Hospital and the Progressive Care Center).
Prisons have served an important significance to both Cañon City and the surrounding areas of Fremont County, as well as to the state of Colorado. The Museum of Colorado Prisons has been given the role of preserving and presenting the past of the state's corrections system. Colorado Department of Corrections operates the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility in Cañon City. In addition to several correctional facilities near Cañon City in unincorporated areas in Fremont County, Colorado State Penitentiary, the location of the state death row and execution chamber is in Fremont County. Other state prisons in Fremont County include Arrowhead Correctional Center, Centennial Correctional Facility, Fremont Correctional Facility, Four Mile Correctional Center, and Skyline Correctional Center.
On October 3, 1929, a riot at the prison claimed 13 lives.
Transportation in the Cañon City area consists of cab service, shuttle bus service, and a downtown wagon ride. The Royal Gorge Bridge trolley had also been used during special events (it was destroyed in the Royal Gorge Fire, but it was reserved for use by the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park. Jeep tours and Segway tours are also available to explore local parks such as Red Canyon Park or scenic places such as Skyline Drive.
The town is served by the Fremont County airport (1V6) which is 6 miles to the East and currently has no scheduled passenger service. Within an hour's drive is the Colorado Springs airport with daily service by major airlines.
Major roads and highways
The area is served by one state and one U.S. highway with a mix of city and county roads to navigate the city or connect to neighboring areas.
State and national highways
- U.S. Highway 50 - named Royal Gorge Boulevard from 1st Street to 15th Street in downtown Cañon
- State Highway 115 - connects the city to nearby Florence and Penrose, ending in Colorado Springs
City and county roads
- 4th Street - connecting Downtown with South Cañon, Oak Creek Grade, Prospect Heights, and Capitol Hill
- 5th Street - serves as a north-south connector from Downtown north, allows traffic from Skyline Drive to return to U.S. 50
- 9th Street - serves as a carrier of CO 115 from the roundabout to the junction with U.S. 50, heads north and ends at Washington Street
- 15th Street - main route north to the hospital, a fire station and a small cluster of businesses
- Orchard Avenue
- Raynolds Avenue/Ash Street - runs from center of East Cañon to CO 115 via a county road, changes to a gravel road and becomes Chandler Road
- MacKenzie / Four Mile Lane - routed to connect from CO 115 as a carrier of CR 20 until the city limits, at Hwy 50, heads north as Four Mile Lane
- Skyline Drive, major scenic route overlooking Cañon City that was originally built by local inmates at the Territorial Prison
- The Union Pacific Railroad mothballed the Tennessee Pass line in 1997. In 1998 Rock and Rail LLC was formed, and began operating on the former Union Pacific track between Cañon City and Parkdale. It also operates between Pueblo and Cañon City on lines purchased from the UP Railway. The tourist line Cañon City and Royal Gorge Railroad also operates on the RRRR's track.
- See also Cañon City School District
Cañon City's school system is under the direction of the Cañon City School District Fremont RE-1. The district currently has four elementary schools, one charter school, one school serving as both an elementary school and middle school, one middle school and one high school, Cañon City High School. For the higher education needs of the community, Pueblo Community College provides a branch campus on the west end of the city along U.S. Highway 50.
Places of interest
- Cañon City State Armory
- Cañon City Downtown Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places
- Cañon City Municipal Building, also known as the Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center
- Colorado State Penitentiary
- Dinosaur Depot Museum, currently housed at the Cañon City Municipal Building
- Holy Cross Abbey (Cañon City, Colorado)
- Museum of Colorado Prisons
- Peabody Mansion, home of the Cañon City Chamber of Commerce
- Robison Mansion
- Royal Gorge Bridge and Park
- Royal Gorge Route Railroad
- The Owl Cigar Store
Former places of interest
- Robert Wesley Amick, artist
- Don Bendell, writer
- Jack Christiansen, NFL hall-of-famer (Detroit Lions)
- Donald S. Fredrickson, medical researcher, former director of the National Institutes of Health and first president of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute; born in Cañon City
- Skip Konte, musician, "Wizard of all Northern Realms"
- Vice Admiral Emory S. Land (U.S. Navy), born in Cañon City
- Bird Millman, stage name of Jeannadean Engleman, Circus Aerialist, born in Cañon City
- James Hamilton Peabody, former Colorado governor
In popular culture
A fictional version of the city is depicted in Philip K. Dick's alternate history novel The Man in the High Castle (1963) and its eponymous 2015 television series adaptation. Cañon City is in an ostensibly-demilitarized "neutral zone" between the puppet regimes of the Japanese Pacific States, in the west, and Greater Nazi Reich, in the east, in the former United States.
The season 12 premiere of the television series ER features the characters Samantha Taggart and Luka Kovac going to Canon City to find her son, who had run away to find his father, who was in prison there.
In the Japanese manga series, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, a turn-of-the-century race across the United States from San Diego to New York City takes place as the main story of the story's seventh part, Steel Ball Run. Cañon City (spelled Canon City) is featured as the third stage finish line and checkpoint for the racers.
- List of counties in Colorado
- List of municipalities in Colorado
- List of places in Colorado
- List of statistical areas in Colorado
- Colorado State Penitentiary
- Royal Gorge
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- City of Cañon City official website
- Cañon City news and information from the Cañon City Daily Record
- CDOT map of the City of Cañon City
- Royal Gorge Region, official visitors guide
- Cañon City & Royal Gorge Visitor Information
- Cañon City Daily Record
- Cañon City School District
- Cañon City Chamber of Commerce