Just off the intersection of Highway 50 and South 6th Street sits a small adobe building. This location, 211 South 6th Street, actually has an interesting history. The address used to be 530 River Street and housed the F. Stockder Bottling Works.
Ferdinand Stocker was born in Germany in 1846 and was granted naturalization in 1877. He came to Colorado a few years later and by 1896 had a bottling works in Cañon City. In 1904, Stockder sent 20 bottles of soda water to the St. Louis World’s Fair, which were awarded a silver medal. The water from Cañon City was considered some of the best according to Professor Lowe, a United States geological surveyor. Originally, Stockder used the water from the soda springs to make his soda but it went flat too quickly so he moved on to making his own carbonation before he finally got an automatic bottling machine. He sold his soda to Cañon City, Florence, and surrounding cities. When Ferdinand passed in 1908, his wife, Gertrude, and son, Hagen, took over the business. They ran it until 1918 when business took a dive due to World War I and the plant had to be closed.
Popular soda flavors included ginger ale, root beer, cola, and pineapple nectarade as stated in one ad. According to an article in the Cañon City Times on February 18, 1909, the plant had been complimented on their sanitary conditions by the State Pure Food Inspector, Mr. Walker. The highest quality ingredients were also purported to be used. The Leader posted an article on March 20, 1913 that claimed 2,000 bottles were turned out of the plant per day. The “Royal Gorge Ginger Ale” was in much demand and the manager, Hagen Stockder, had trouble consistently supplying the product due to its popularity.
Though the bottling plant no longer exists, the museum has fortunately acquired a few bottles that preserve the history of one of Cañon City’s former businesses.
The information presented in this article is compiled using research conducted by the Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center.