The Poor Farm on County Road 160
The Poor Farm was originally built in 1892 on 100 acres of land along the Arkansas River on C.R. 160. The cost of the building was $6,371 and was built using Salida brick. It is located at 8495 C.R. 160 in Salida, Colorado.
The Poor Farm was Chaffee County’s answer to 19th century poor houses. The Poor Farm provided the destitute the opportunities that were denied to those who lived in the poor houses of the larger cities. More often than not, the residents were older. But if they were able, they had the opportunity to work the fields, grow crops, milk the cows, and care for the livestock. In that way, they could give back something for their humble existence. The county provided a superintendent and small staff that helped with food preparation and daily cleaning.
In the early 1940s, the Poor Farm was closed as government programs became available. For a brief time, it was used as a dance hall and a grange for the Farmer’s Union. Then it was abandoned until it was renovated in 1982.
Another structure that was part of the original farm was the Pest House. Any resident of the Farm who had a communicable disease was sent out to the Pest House. It is located to the rear and left side of the barn on another property.
At the County Clerk’s office at the Chaffee County Courthouse, there is a large book called ‘Record of County Poor 1908-1916’ which lists the residents by name, age, sex, place of birth, cause of poverty and distress, and the time of maintenance. The number of children is listed as well. There is also a record of the cost of supplies and maintenance, hospital costs, railroad fares, burial fees (eg. $19 in 1916), and other costs incurred for each person.