Carbondale was founded in 1883 and incorporated in 1888. It was named, like many settlements in the West, by one of its founders, John Mankins home town in Pennsylvania. Local farmers and farmers supplies 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.Carbondales most impressive landmark is 12,953-foot Mt. Sopris, named for an early explorer, Richard Sopris, who came through the area looking for minerals with a party of 14 in 1860. He took 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, who is the first recorded European to visit the hot springs, gave them the name Grand Springs.Farming and ranching were the backbone of Carbondales economy through much of the 20th century.
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The town would join Aspen and Glenwood Springs in prohibiting flavored tobacco sales and licensing retailers.