Messing with the S on Tenderfoot Hill

Brief by Central Staff

Salida – November 2001 – Colorado Central Magazine

Like many Salidans, we were mystified one October night when we looked across the river and saw some new lights on Tenderfoot Hill.

Normally, there’s a white-light S that alternates with a red heart outline (for Heart of the Rockies, a Salida slogan that dates back to the 1930s). At Yuletide, it’s a big Christmas tree. And there has been talk, since Sept. 11, of installing an American flag, or of flanking the S with two more big letters to make it USA..

On this autumn night, though, there were also the letters “JD” glowing above town.

We speculated. Years ago, JD was short for “juvenile delinquent,” but that phrase has been superseded by “youthful offender,” so that didn’t seem likely. Perhaps the operation against the Taliban had been renamed something like Operation Just Desserts or Jihad Destruction, but that wasn’t the case.

Upon inquiry, we discovered that Salida was then preparing to host a John Denver festival, and thus the JD on the hill.

That hill is officially Tenderfoot Hill, according to the U.S. Geological Survey — it’s not “S Mountain,” as we sometimes hear it called. The U.S.G.S. lists its elevation as 7,566 feet, and Salida’s at 7,080, so the hill is 476 feet tall, more or less.