Letter from Donna Nevens
Local history – July 1997 – Colorado Central Magazine
Cleora was once Proposed For the Lake County Seat
I am writing with reference to your comments about Cleora in the June, 1997, edition of Colorado Central. Residents of the platted townsite voted to incorporate the town at an election held at the Grand View Hotel on August 26, 1879.
Mayor W.A. Hawkins and a five-member Board of Trustees held their first meeting on October 4, 1879, at which time they appointed a treasurer, marshal, police judge, and corporate attorney. An addition to the town was platted later and filed in the office of the county clerk. The board held its last meeting on May 27, 1880.
Before the state legislature divided Lake County into Lake and Chaffee counties in February, 1879, interested citizens in the southern part of the county lobbied the state to have either Poncha Springs or Cleora designated as the county seat instead of Granite.
An agent for the Arkansas Valley Town Company even wrote to State Representative Joseph Hutchinson that “There is one [lot] reserved in the middle of the Block that fronts on Main Street, and directly in front of the Depot grounds, that I shall make your wife a present of clear Deed to, in case she will accept it, if we get the County Seat located at Cleora.”
The federal census enumerated in Cleora on June 14, 1880, listed 183 residents including children. However, quite a few residents and business men already had moved upriver to Salida.
As you mentioned, after the Santa Fé Railroad lost the Royal Gorge War, the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad platted the town that became Salida through one of its officials, former territorial Governor Alexander C. Hunt.
When Hunt began selling lots in Salida, he had a policy that everyone who had a lot and house in Cleora could have a free lot in Salida if they would relocated their Cleora houses or business buildings, and many took advantage of the offer, which applied to all except saloonkeepers.
William Bale was appointed the first postmaster of Cleora on December 5, 1876. John T. Blake was appointed to succeed him on July 18, 1879, and Blake later was appointed the first postmaster of South Arkansas [later named Salida] on June 16, 1880.
Cleora also had a newspaper, the Cleora Journal, established in 1879 by L.C. McKenney. The plant and machinery, which were leased from Otto Mears, were moved to Salida in June of 1880 to start the Mountain Mail. Fifty-two students were enrolled in School District No. 7, Cleora, for the year ending August 31, 1880. Many of these students were children of Salida residents.