Salidans (and dogs!) invited to Loyal Duke Monument dedication

The public is invited to a dedication ceremony celebrating the newly refurbished monument to Salida's historic and cherished canine, "Loyal Duke". The event will take place Tuesday, July 4 at 11:00 am at the historic Loyal Duke gravesite and monument on Tenderfoot Mountain.

Around the turn of the 20th century, Loyal Duke was an American Water Spaniel who for 13 years became a beloved goodwill ambassador for Salida, earning the love and respect of everyone who knew him. He would greet railroad passengers; protect the train depot; attend local dances, plays, and baseball games; and accompany locals around town.

When Duke died in 1902, his many friends dubbed him "Loyal Duke" and built a white concrete monument that marks his grave on Tenderfoot Mountain--a landmark that still draws visitors today. Recently, noting that the century-old monument had fallen into disrepair, a group of local citizens formed "Friends of Loyal Duke", and received permission from the City Council to restore, improve, and preserve the historic Salida site.

Now complete are a refurbished monument and plaque, restored access trail, and a new bench where visitors can enjoy a sweeping view of the Valley.

The restoration was financed and carried out entirely by volunteers and private contributions--no city funds were used. Spearheading the project were the Salida Dog Club Board (Laura Pintane, Tom Pahnke, and Lisa Marvel) and other Friends of Loyal Duke including Nick Avignon, Ryan Edmonson, Stephanie Amend, Joe Amend, Jon McManus, and Donna Wagle. Hylton Lumber provided $400 in materials; and the group received $500 from Monarch Mountain Community Fund as well. It is estimated that volunteers donated more than 100 man-hours of labor--plus six months of meetings to plan and prepare.

"A town defines itself in part by how it cares for its infrastructure and honors its history," explained Friends spokesman Nick Avignon. "Loyalty is an admirable quality in man and beast; and too often lacking in the former. We would like to do our part to honor Loyal Duke and keep his memory alive for future generations."

The July 4 dedication ceremony will include a brief history and restoration facts; comments from some Friends of Loyal Duke and Salida City Council members; and the unveiling of the new commemorative plaque.

The Loyal Duke gravesite and monument are located on Little Tenderfoot Hill, halfway up the Front-side trail on Tenderfoot Mountain. Starting from Salida's F Street Bridge, it takes 10-15 minutes to walk to the site. Everyone is invited to attend this festive Salida event--and their dogs (on leash) are welcome as well!

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