The F.C. Sels Brewery building stands as a reminder of the early days in Canyon City.

Francis Clemens “F.C.” Sels, owner of the establishment, had his career start in mining.

He was born in 1837 in Meschede, Westphalia, Germany.

He left Germany at age 17, arriving in California in 1854.

Sels made his way to Canyon City in July 1, 1862, joining the Prairie Diggings camp.

The 18 members of that party were from California and mostly of German descent.

They prospected in Canyon City in 1862 while en route to Florence, Idaho. However, they were informed of discouraging reports in Florence and returned to Canyon City.

They soon found fair prospects, locating 18 claims, and later had six adjoining claims.

The original owners of the Prairie Diggings cleared $10,000 each during the first year of their operations, and many hundreds of thousands more were garnered by companies which followed.

It is assumed that Sels had his career start from this mining success.

Sels had several occupations prior to owning the brewery, including general merchandise store owner, justice of the peace (1864-1866) and postmaster for less than a year in 1866.

He ran for state senator in 1868 and won the election, but lost the seat due to a technicality.

He was the Grant County judge from 1870 to 1874.

Sels bought the brewery on July 28, 1870, from John H. Stahl. Though it is known today as the F.C. Sels Brewery, Sels called it the City Brewery.

Two weeks later, the town burned down in the first of three disastrous fires the town suffered over the years.

The brewery was not spared.

Sels listed his loss at $7,000 with no insurance.

It was said: “F.C. Sels, our present county judge, came near losing his life through over exertion and copious inhalation of heat and smoke. He is still confined to his bed and in a rather critical condition.”

In 1898, a second fire destroyed the brewery, and Sels listed the financial loss at $30,000.

Although his brewery was small, Sels had a reputation for his beer, which won a medal at the St. Louis World’s Fair.

Sels died at his Canyon City home on Jan. 29, 1914, at age 77.

At the time of his death, he was president of the First National Bank of Canyon City.

Information was provided to the Grant County Historical Museum by Dennis Smith.

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