Mining history in modern day Pueblo

A charming rough-and-tumble sort of town with the tough appellation of “steel city”, Pueblo, Colorado is not at all what you would expect it to be.

It’s said that the earliest permanent building in Colorado was erected in Pueblo by Lt. Zebulon Pike while he explored this part of the West. On his heels, Colorado’s earliest pioneers established Fort Pueblo, a trading post on the banks of the Arkansas River, which flows out of the nearby Sangre de Cristo mountain range.

Today, the site where steel mills once thrived has been replaced that the historic Arkansas Riverwalk, a 32-acre urban waterfront with boats, food, special events, entertainment and historic shopping district.  Gone are the days of cowboys, gold-seekers and infamous ruffians like Wild Bill Hickok and Buffalo Bill Cody, they may have been interesting, but they weren’t terribly family friendly.  So instead of public drunkenness and gun slinging, these days you can enjoy the world’s longest painting, a two mile-long mural which adorns a 65 foot high levee.

Pueblo’s original town centre is the colourful Union Avenue Historic District once housed trading posts, gambling saloons and second-story brothels. Today, that area has been transformed, and is now comprised of beautiful brick and sandstone buildings, 70 of which are on the National Register of Historic Places, and which house a collection of boutiques, art galleries and sidewalk cafes.

Pueblo must be one of the few cities in the world which has an authentic Whitewater Park within its boundaries.  It is with-in walking distance of shops and restaurants in the Historic Downtown District between Union Ave. and the West 4th Street Bridge. The park has eight drops and is approximately 1/2 mile long. The names of the drops and pools reflect their nature: Harpo, Marley and the Grim Reaper to name a few.  And, as the people of Pueblo proudly point out, this is a real river – it is not an artificial amusement park.    

There’s plenty of activities for kids in Pueblo.  For instance, part of the Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Centre is occupied by the Buell Children’s Museum, which is acclaimed as one of North America’s best children’s museums.

The younger ones will have a blast exploring the museum’s several galleries, such as Sensations, a high-tech display devoted to stimulating the senses, and the Artrageous Studio, a hands-on art space where kids can create their own sparkly, feathery, beribboned works of art.

Older kids may like to visit the Pueblo Wiesbrod Aircraft Museum and is housed at an old World War  II  army air base where 30 thirty vintage aircraft are housed.

And if all of this activity and culture makes you hungry, you can top the day off with a Pueblo speciality – the Slopper, a hamburger patty served open-faced in a bowl on a grilled bun and smothered in green chilli, and a great way to ensure that your visit to Pueblo will be truly memorable.

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