Places: Florence Mountain Park Newlin Creek Trail

By Mike Rosso Located in the foothills of the Wet Mountains south of Florence, this city-run park offers a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities. The Newlin Creek Trail, which begins within the park, follows an aged logging road to the remains of an old sawmill. The first half mile begins in a canyon and is …

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Profile: Florence, Colorado

By Mike Rosso

Florence, Colorado, neighboring the Arkansas River south of Cañon City, sometimes gets an undeserved bad rap. Having a federal prison complex on its outskirts, it is sometimes referred to as a “prison town.” It’s far from it. Having visited Florence a number of times over the years, I thought it might be fun to take a closer look at this small city with a rich history and dynamic future.

My first visit was city hall, and a meeting with newly elected mayor Keith Ore and City Manager Mike Patterson. Ore was selected as mayor pro-tem after former mayor Charles Giebler suddenly died in January 2013. Ore was then elected to serve a full term in November. Like many small cities in Colorado that once had a mining or manufacturing base, Florence has been challenged with a changing economy. There are no big box stores in the community, and the closest U.S. highway is several miles north of town. Even the Arkansas River, a tourist draw in towns like Salida and Buena Vista, is too far from downtown to have any appreciable effect on visitor numbers. In fact, Florence does not consider itself a tourist town, according to Chamber Director Barbara Folger. But Florence does have one very big thing going for it: antiques. In fact, Florence boasts the highest number of antique stores per capita in Colorado – a total of 18.

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Restaurant Review

Jade Café, 129 Church Avenue, Florence, CO 81226 (719) 784-3888 . Hours: 11 am – 9 pm every day

If you live in a town of over 3,500 in Colorado, chances are you’ve got a Chinese restaurant somewhere nearby. Salida’s got one, Buena Vista has two, as do Gunnison and Alamosa. Leadville may well lay claim to being the highest city in the U.S. where one can order moo goo gai pan. Florence, Colorado, population 3,881, is no exception. The Jade Cafe, just west of downtown, has been in business for fourteen years and is operated by the Youhuan Xiang family.

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