How to Pronounce Salida
Updated: Oct 4, 2022
Sa-LEE-Duh or Sa-LIE-Duh? Which is it?
The first pronunciation (Sa-LEE-Duh) is proper Spanish.
The second pronunciation (Sa-LIE-Duh) is correct locally.
Visitors to town tend to be as confused about the pronunciation of Salida as they are amazed at the surrounding beauty. But names are part of the charm, especially when you know the story behind it all.
The Denver & Rio Grande Railroad created the town of Salida and, as they did in other company towns (Durango, Alamosa), wanted a soft-sounding Spanish name to make the dusty track of land inviting to settlers.
Originally, this area was called South Arkansas. While appropriate due to the location of the river, the name was confusing because a settlement upstream (now called Poncha Springs) already claimed the moniker.
When the postal service announced that any mail for South Arkansas would be delivered to the original owners of the town name, locals pondered something new. The name Arkansas was batted around before deciding that would create confusion with the State.
A.C. Hunt, territorial governor of Colorado from 1867-69, now working for the railroad as the land agent, had his wife choose a name for the new settlement. In 1880, leaving Canon City by train, she found inspiration and picked Salida (pronounced Sa-LEE-duh), a Spanish word meaning 'gateway' or 'exit.'
From day one, locals (a rough bunch of miners, ranchers, outlaws, and railroad workers) refused to say the name as intended. They believed Sa-LEE-duh sounded too dude-ish. A dude referred to a city slicker. To call a man ‘dude’ in 1880 was grounds for a fight, because a dude had few useful skills on the frontier.
These tough men chose an alternate pronunciation, Sa-LIE-duh.
The new town was also populated by educated people who fought for a proper pronunciation. The Mountain Mail even published a guide to help locals understand how to say the new town name.
But, despite nearly 25 years of protestation from the newspaper and local officials, the name Sa-LIE-duh stuck, confusing out-of-towners and Spanish-speakers ever since.
Want to learn more about Salida's sometimes sordid history? Join Steve and his team on a walking tour - there is a tour for every taste and age!