The Legend of Loyal Duke

Duke, also known as Buster, was the local spaniel who greeted railroad passengers disembarking from the Denver & Rio Grande trains. He was owned by Charles Catlin, the manager of the Monte Cristo Hotel in Salida, Colorado.

Duke’s obituary – from the Salida Mail, October 31, 1902.

Death of an Old Dog.

The old landmark at the Monte Cristo Hotel has passed away. Few there are in Salida or among the many thousands of guests of the Monte Cristo during the past ten or twelve years who will not remember the splendid dog ‘Buster’ or ‘Duke,’ as he was formerly called, and regret to learn that he is no more. Few there are among us in the higher walks of life who have as many warm, true friends as this faithful old dog. He was possessed of qualities of heart and mind, of intelligence and affection which were almost human and which endeared him to all who came in contact with him.

Mr. Catlin had him wrapped in a sheet and placed in a box and buried on the summit of little ‘tenderfoot hill,’ opposite the hotel. Many of the guests and employees of the Monte Cristo were present and assisted in laying him away.

Herbert George remembered Duke in this piece from the Salida Mail, February 3, 1903.


For a time, Tenderfoot Hill was renamed Duke’s Hill, in honor of Duke. The following is from the Salida Mail, April 28, 1903.

Duke’s Hill

The name of the small hill opposite the Monte Cristo Hotel has recently been changed from ‘Little Tenderfoot Hill’ to ‘Duke’s Hill, in honor of the splendid old dog, Duke, who for so many years was a conspicuous figure upon the platform of the Monte Cristo Hotel, greeting strangers and friends alike, as they came and went, and whose burial place and tomb, upon the summit of the hill, is not only an object of interest to all who knew him but is daily visited by both our townspeople and strangers in numbers that would surprise those not in a position to know.

In view of the growing popularity, ‘Duke’s Hill,’ as a resort for tourists and others, Mr. Catlin has had the stones removed from the upper portion of the hill and the pathway leading to the tomb and will in the near future provide seats for the comfot and convenience of visitors.

The view from this point is very beautiful and can be enjoyed with much less fatique than from the top of old Tenderfoot Hill, which adjoins it.

The following are news clippings related to Duke and his gravesite:

An Attempt at Arson  – Salida Mail, September 1, 1903

Won’t Let Him Sleep  – Salida Record, September 4, 1903

Dog Dead Twenty Years – His Monument Repaired  – Salida Mail, October 4, 1921

Monument to a Faithful Dog  – Salida Record, October 2, 1925

The Church in Thy House  – The Christian Advocate, January 20, 1938

The Death of an Old Dog – Colorado Prospector, Vol. 11, No.2