Carbondale was founded in 1883 and incorporated in 1888. It was named, like many settlements in the West, by one of its founders. Carbondale was John Mankin’s hometown in Pennsylvania.
Local farmers from Mankin’s new town supplied the booming silver town of Aspen with hay and victuals. Later it became a coal shipping depot for nearby coal towns such as Marion just west of Carbondale. The last mine shut down in the early 1990s.
Well into the 1900s, Carbondale was known for its potatoes, and a local farmer named McClure developed a potato that later bore his name. McClure Pass on Highway 133 is named for the Carbondale farmer.
Carbondale’s most impressive landmark is 12,953-foot Mount Sopris, named for an early explorer, Richard Sopris, who came through the area looking for minerals with a party of 14 in 1860. He became sick and the local Utes advised his companions to take him to the hot springs at the confluence of the Grand (Colorado) and Roaring Fork rivers, the present-day location of Glenwood Springs. Sopris and his men camped on an island in the Grand River that is now the site of the Hotel Colorado.
Sopris, the first recorded European to visit the hot springs, gave them the name Grand Springs.
Farming and ranching were the backbone of Carbondale’s economy through much of the 20th century, and remain a component of a much broader economy today. The town’s potato-growing heritage is also celebrated with the annual Potato Day festival in the fall.
Today, Carbondale is a thriving arts center, celebrated with one of the area’s premier summertime festivals, Mountain Fair, held on the last full weekend of July each year.
The Carbondale Council on the Arts and Humanities also sponsors the monthly First Fridays art gallery walks, featuring art exhibit openings, business open houses, music events and extended hours at many downtown shops on the first Friday of each month. The new Thunder River Theatre also hosts regular entertainment events, including theatrical productions by the Thunder River Theatre Company.
Mayor Michael Hassig
Stacey Patch Bernot
Community Development Director
Chief Gene Schilling
Chief Ron Leach
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