The Real Deal Music Review: Pint & A Half – Boomtown Ghosts

By Brian Rill

Pint & A Half return from their part-time gig as Smeltertown ghost whisperers to record the stories of forgotten souls who paved the way through old mining town memories, while raising a rags-to-riches fairy tale in this western small town paradise of Salida, Colorado. Regrouping, the pair this time collaborates with legendary producer Don Richmond to release a product at the top of its game. Songs with multiple instruments such as steel guitar and violin lend to the classic country sound. The duo still has the same sound, but a more polished meter and maturity of songwriting seep through the sometimes brash, but mostly smooth, vocal harmonies.

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Dance Hall Days

In Smeltertown, the historical epicenter of partying, dancing, eating and socializing is one particular building. Located at 7595 CR 150, it’s currently serving as a tango dance studio and private residence. Before that it went through more than 80 years as a buzzing hub for the town and the region serving as a restaurant, nightclub, 3.2 bar and fraternal hall.

Its owners have been long-time Salida locals, some of whom still remain here. Countless patrons, once barely old enough to be served, and now grandparents, remember the good times in the building and sometimes stop to tell the current owners how much fun they had.

During the heyday, hefty paychecks from mining, railroading, trucking and Western commerce created an atmosphere of good times and prosperity.

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Growing Up in Smeltertown

Rich Shine was born and raised in Smeltertown. His father, John Shine Sr., and his wife Doris were deeded 25 acres of farmland in Smeltertown, near CR150 and Colo. 291 in 1936 by his father, Frank Shine Sr. and his wife Frances, both immigrants from Austria. Frank Sr. worked the mines in the region and bought the land in 1909, several years after the opening of the smelting plant. The name Shine is actually derived from the Austrian name Sajn and was changed at Ellis Island upon entry to the U.S.

Frank Sr. and Frances had a daughter Frances and three sons, Frank Jr., Ralph and John Sr. who worked for the Denver and Rio Grande RR and later for the Chaffee County road and bridge department. He was also a horse trainer and farmer.

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Smeltertown

Just north of Salida, above the banks of the Arkansas River sits a small community with one foot steeped in the past and another stepping firmly into the future.

The town of Kortz, named for J.C. Kortz, then president of the Ohio and Colorado Mining and Smelting Company, was established around 1902 to house the workers at the smelter operation. The smelting plant sat on about 80 acres obtained by the Salida Board of Trade, an organization similar to todays Chamber of Commerce. Construction of the facility required about 300 men as did the regular operation of the plant. The original residents of the community came from Europe; primarily Greece, Italy and Austria. Of the early families who settled in the town; names like Struna, Floransic, Pahole, Argys and Shine, some of the ancestors still reside in the Salida area. Workers at the plant were paid an average of $2.50 to $4.00 a day. In the twenty years of operation the plant yielded silver, gold, copper and lead, processing on average 1,000 tons of ore daily. A school, which still stands today, was built by the smelting company for the children of the workers.

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CoZinCo – A Different Kind of Legacy

By Ann Marie Swan

Salida enchants visitors who enjoy riding bikes past quaint Victorian houses en route to coffee shops. The Arkansas Valley’s natural wonders and easy charm woo these tourists who appreciate the river, nice restaurants, and the many hiking trails that wind away from the city. Salida is so dang cute, they often say.

But Salida proper and its outlying neighbors, heavily laden with historical baggage, weren’t always so popular, green and eco-conscious. Residents of Smeltertown, a mile northwest of Salida, fought an arduous battle for 16 years for their right to clean soil, air and water. Dave Kimmett and Ann Ewing lived through this saga of poisoning. It wasn’t all that long ago.

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