Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Saw marks on the area's lumber

Mills cut a swath through local industry narrative

By Rob Carrigan, robcarrigan1@gmail.com

Railroad building and general development in the Denver and Colorado Springs area has made logging in this area at least a century-old tradition. Early mills in the Forest and at Husted, Perry Park, and on Cherry Creek, date back to days of Pikes Peak Gold Rush in the early 1860s.
General William Jackson Palmer's construction and planning of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad accelerated the process. Interestingly, if you look at early 1900-era photos, you will notice the level of logging operations along the Palmer Divide.
Palmer established the Colorado Pinery Trust in 1870. Logging in the Black Forest, or Pinery, reached its height in the summer of 1870 and eventually more than one billion feet of lumber was removed to provide ties for the Kansas Pacific, Denver and Rio Grande and New Orleans Railroads, and lumber for projects along the tracks.
Black Forest, a very prosperous land, thick with trees in the mid-1800s; and railroads, with a need for lumber to supply growing towns along the tracks, were soon dotted by sawmills on the landscape.
Those who owned saw mills prospered, especially General William Jackson Palmer, who once owned most of Black Forest known at that time as the Pinery.
“General Palmer bought a huge amount of land out there. He bought it for $2 an acre,” Judy von Ahlefeldt, author of “Thunder, Sun and Snow: The History of Colorado’s Black Forest,” said.
In 1860, Robert Finley came to Black Forest and brought in the first sawmill operation. The sawmill industry lasted well into the 1960s. The sawmills also operated in outlying areas of Black Forest, including Spring Creek, Husted, Table Rock, Eastonville and Monument. In 1970 von Ahlefeldt moved to Black Forest and remembers a sawmill that was still up and running.
In her book von Ahlefeldt talks about the different sawmills. Jerome Weir and business partner Judd bought the Finley mill in 1863. According to an article in the Douglas County News dated June 23, 1966 the very first post office in Eastonville was located in the Weir sawmill. In 1865 Calvin Husted started his mill on Monument Creek near Husted while Philip P. Gomer established Gomer’s Mill northeast of Eastonville on Kiowa Creek.
Gomer’s Mill was a major supplier of timber to the Kansas Pacific Railroad which was located north east of Black Forest according to von Ahlefeldt’s book. She goes on to say that Palmer was director of construction for the railroad but had plans to start his own railroad and would need timber for that. In 1869 he formed the Colorado Pinery Trust Company and purchased more than 43,000 acres of land in Elbert and El Paso Counties.
Another big mill operation came in 1917 and that was the Edgar Lumber and Box Company. A majority of the saw mills according to von Ahlefeldt’s book were located in Black Forest.
H.C. Blakely owned a saw mill north of Monument, possibly in Palmer Lake, in 1875. Someone by the name of Huddle owned a mill in Monument in the early 1900s, according to von Ahlefeldt’s book, but no details are given. Rogers Davis, museum director for the Lucretia Vaile Museum in Palmer Lake, said one well known family from Monument owned a saw mill.
“The Schubarth family had one but no one knows specifically where it was,” Davis said, adding that Schubarth most likely had a portable saw mill.
“Schubarth had a portable set-up. He would go where the timber was,” confirmed Jim Sawatzki, local filmmaker.
Sawatzki said a well-known saw mill in the area was owned by D.C. Oakes.
Oakes saw mill was northeast of Larkspur. He was one of the earliest sawmills,” Sawatzki said. “Wood from his mill built some of the early structures in Denver. He was a very early pioneer, an interesting figure.
According to the Larkspur Historical Society Daniel Cheeseman Oakes set-up his saw mill in 1859 in Douglas County in an area called Riley’s Gulch. His saw mill also housed a post office and was washed away in the flood of 1864.
In her book von Ahlefeldt lists a G.W. Higby mill and in “History Colorado, Volume Four” authored by Wilbur Fiske Stone he mentions a J.W. Higby who bought 1,640 acres near Monument and erected a number of sawmills. Wood from his saw mills provided 50,000 railroad ties for the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad Company. It is not known if the two were related or not.
When white men began to settle the region in the late 1850's the Black Forest became an important center of activity, primarily as a source of scarce timber. The first of what would be several dozen sawmills was constructed in 1860. Lumber and mine props were supplied to build Colorado Springs and Denver. Logging in the Pineries reached its height in the summer of 1870 when over 700 teamsters and 1,000 lumberjacks and tie hacks were employed, mostly for railway work. More than one billion board feet of lumber were removed to provide ties for the Kansas Pacific, Denver and Rio Grande and New Orleans Railroads.
"The larger area traditionally known as the Pineries extended from Divide, (in Teller County), through the present planning area and east along the Platte-Arkansas Divide to a point where the Ponderosa Pines thinned out. Altogether the Pineries encompassed a 1,000 square mile area. Although the origin of the name is not clear, that portion of the Pineries north of Colorado Springs became known as the "Black Forest" by around the turn of the century.
"Arrowheads and charcoal pits provide evidence that the planning area was occupied by Native Americans at least 800 years ago. The first known inhabitants were the Ute and Commanche Indians. The dense Ponderosa Pines provided them with protection, fuel, and timber for lodgepoles. These tribes were displaced by the Kiowas around 1800. Almost 40 years later the Arapahoe and Cheyenne tribes joined forces to drive out the Kiowas and become the last Native Americans to inhabit the area," according to History information from the Black Forest Preservation Plan, a document first developed in 1974 by the El Paso County Planning Commission, and updated several times since. 
"Although lumbering continued sporadically through the 1950's, farming and ranching had become the dominant activities by the 1880's. A wide variety of crops were raised including, cattle, sheep, alfalfa, wheat, corn, hay and beans. Potatoes, however, were the agricultural product for which the Black Forest area became most renown. Agricultural productivity was subject to boom and bust cycles with crops often ruined by drought, floods, hail, blizzards, or grasshoppers. The drought of the 1920's and the Depression of the 1930's combined to eliminate most types of agriculture in the planning area. By the 1920's the area was mostly consolidated into large ranches. Some of these remain today," according to Black Forest Preservation Plan information.
Several towns and settlements dotted the planning area at one time or another during its history. The largest and most long-lived of these was the Town of Eastonville. Eastonville (actually located just to the east of the planning area) was begun in the early 1880's as a stop on the C & S Railroad. Its population peaked at about 400 in 1910 and was already in decline when the railroad ceased operations in 1935. Today only a few remnants of the once thriving townsite remain.
"In the forest itself, modern subdivision had a fitful start in the 1920's when Dreamland and Brentwood Country Clubs were organized. Although these ventures were not particularly successful, they did represent the beginning of what would become a significant summer home market in the planning area. A boom in year-round subdivisions took place in the late 1950's and early 1960's. Most of the planning area was zoned for five acre minimum lot sizes in 1965," the plan notes.
Primarily in response to plans for a major transportation corridor through the eastern portion of the planning area, residents and County staff initiated work on a comprehensive land use plan in the early 1970's. The result of this effort was adoption of the Black Forest Preservation Plan in 1974. While this plan recommended rural-residential uses for most of the planning area, it also delineated several large areas for mixed urban uses. The largest of these was in the southeast where the new "city" of Latigo would later be proposed.
The Black Forest Fire in June of 2013, and related mitigation efforts, re-focused attention on the nearby logging operations.
Bob Olson, who lives in the Black Forest area himself, set up his modern answer on Jim Maguire's property on State Highway 105 in Monument, in the form of his WoodMizer portable sawmill. The mill looks something like a big bandsaw and automates some of the complicated setup with its high-tech operation. Logs from a house lot down on Old Ranch Road, areas in the burn area, and locations in Woodmoor, as well other areas, all contributed to a week's cut and mill process. The Maguire property milling operation was abuzz once again in 2013.
Other sawing operations have been working on Jim Maguire's property since that time.
And continued plans for buildings produced the from lumber are ongoing.
A stage stop log cabin 18 feet by 16 feet, dedicated to recalling the losses suffered by some in the Black Forest Fire, was one of those structures. Some salvageable, but slightly burned logs, originated in the burn area and 44 timbers, seven inches by 10 inches, were milled for the structure.
"This place is part of an old homestead," says Maguire. "And a stage at one time was the only way of getting here before the rails."
Then, of course, the rails were among the main reasons for the lumber operations.

Photo Information:
1. The D.C. Oakes Sawmill in Huntsville, near Larkspur (Douglas County), was one of the earliest sawmill operations.

2. D.C. Oakes was one of the founders of Denver, and may have been of the most hated men of his time by the gold prospectors who failed to become rich taking his advice from his “Pike’s Peak Guide and Journal.”
3. Charlie Shubarth's  steam-driven tractor was probably used to also power a portable sawmill in the Monument and Palmer Lake areas.
4. Higby's Store in 1900, was owned by Gene Higby, and he also owned a sawmill at this time. Higbys owned several mills in the area in early days of Monument, Larkspur and Greenland.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Just water over the dam

Along a river's banks, streams change course

 I struggle sometimes, putting things back together in my head, but enjoy the exercise so much, I tend to travel there. Maybe it is a bad habit, or a good one. Maybe it is just water over the dam. But it certainly enchants the murky, mental, muddy water in a morning's wanderings. We become what we do over and over again — try to remember stuff and tell a story about it.  L.M. Montgomery wrote in The Story Girl that “Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it.”


Over on Eighth Street in Dolores, one block over from where I grew up, at the corner of Central (or Main Street at time) the Highway 145 Drive-In had pink naugahyde thrones around a aluminum edged formica counter up front in the kitchen area. That generally was not what you remembered, but the soft-serve cones, and the French fries, and even the burgers, somehow made a lasting impression on a kid eight, nine, ten... years old at the time.
Seems like there also was knotty-pine paneled walls in adjoining room, slightly larger, with rickety tables, and marginal western art on the wall. Two entrances on the white-sided exterior, one on the corner and a side entrance opening into the paneled 'dining area,' defined what kind of customer you were, I guess.
It has been a long time, but even a kid that age could sometimes scrounge enough pocket change from selling coke bottles, or digging in sofa cushions, to afford the soft serve. Maybe you had wait for a cub scout special meeting, or some other trouble, to eat burgers and fries in the dinning room served by a harried high school waitress, between coffee top-offs at the counter.
The place was later a print shop, and maybe other things, but for me, memories gravitate to that restaurant of yesteryear. Other locations fade in and out — lap at banks on the water's edge.


Water, especially river water, is an odd, driving force and difficult to explain. It keeps moving and changing, defying a written representation, or account of a person. Along its banks, structures, life and times all change with it.
The whole town moved. Big Bend to Dolores. Picked up its buildings, and life and times and relocated a couple miles up river. Harris Bros. Mercantile, (later to become Taylor Hardware) migrated to meet the railroad. Memories relocated. Dreams re-evaluated. Streams changed course.


"Members of the Montezuma Valley Irrigation District were discouraged by the continued bankruptcy of the district and the poor service and maintenance but surprisingly their spirits lifted with the beginning of the Montezuma Valley Irrigation Company in 1920. Charlie Porter, a director of the Montezuma Valley Irrigation Company, summed up the situation, says Maureen Gerhold, in The River of Sorrows: The History of the Lower Dolores River Valley.
"It wasn't set up to make enough money to pay the toll, so up 'till 1920 it was a history of little companies going broke, farmers not doing well enough to pay their ditch companies and they needed water everywhere. They formed more companies and borrowed more money and went into default, and it was in the 1920's before our ditch companies got on a decent basis at all," Gerhold quotes Porter.
"Settlement of the Montezuma Valley in southwestern Colorado was made possible in the 1880's by the construction of the Montezuma Valley irrigation system. Organized by James W. Hanna, the system consisting of a tunnel (5,400 feet long), "Great Cut," siphons and wooden flumes channeled water from the Dolores River through a steep divide. The system constitutes one of the earliest large scale, privately funded and continuously operating irrigation projects in the Southwest, Gerhold writes.
Though diversion of the river began long before.
Dry as we were, for centuries, folks tried to get water to a place where it could be used effectively.
"The crude stone terraces or check dams of the Anasazi cliff dwellers, the first to practice irrigation in this area, can still be seen in Mesa Verde National Park. The Navajos also used a primitive form of irrigation to adapt to the climate and geography.  In 1852 the Mexican American settlers in the San Luis Valley began the oldest continuously operating irrigation system in Colorado," notes Gerhold.


Years ago, the raft races dropped down near the old dam and rafters struggled down there, I recall. The old headgate mechanism was of interest to a youngster, with gears, and cogs and wheels that would make any steampunk proud. 
Not far from the shadow of ol' Blue Robinson's barn, the canal meandered, and the old steel bridge crossed the the river at the bottom of Ritter Hill. The lizards and a few rattlers sunned themselves on the flat layers of rocks in the pinion and juniper near the top as you descended the hill. Sometimes you could point them out with your chocolate-covered fingers, on the rocks from the road, through the rolled-down windows, of a car freshly stocked with candy bars and Cokes from the Three Cornered Store. 
The pot-bellied stove in the store had been surrounded by loafers in overalls, trying to remember stuff, or make up new stories — if they struggled to put it together correctly in their heads. Perhaps, it was a good habit, or a bad one. Along a river's banks, streams change course. Structures, life and times all change with it.
Maybe it was just water over the dam. We become what we do over and over again. Nothing is lost if we remember it.

 By Rob Carrigan, robcarrigan1@gmail.com

Photo info:
1. Big Bend, about 1887.
2. Headgate mechanism controlled intake to tunnel.
3. Cement structure replaced wooden diversion stucture about 1949.
4. The barn at the old Ritter ranch.
5. Andy Pleasant and myself, on a makeshift raft near the river in Dolores.
6. The original wooden headgate in Dolores River valley.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Mysterious county park inspires imagination


Tucked away in the northeast corner

By Rob Carrigan, robcarrigan1@gmail.com

The Paint Mines, just a short distance (about a mile) from Calhan, in the northeast part of El Paso County, seems like the perfect backdrop for a murder mystery.
The landscape is surreal, windblown, a little desperate, and above all else — mysterious.
I can just imagine one of C.J. Box's characters uttering something like: "Nothing spells trouble like two drunk cowboys with a rocket launcher.”
Or perhaps, something from Tony Hillerman:
"You notice anything about the skeletons?” Leaphorn was squatting now in the shallow trench, examining bones. “Somebody seemed to be interested in the jawbones,” Chee said.
It is the kind of country that inspires. Natural, beautiful, and able to hold its own in a fight — with more than a little bit of its own crazed sort of meanness.
 "The landscape has fascinated people for thousands of years, and continues so to this day. Located on the Colorado eastern plain, the area transitions from wetland, to short-grass prairie, to badland topographies," says History Colorado (the state historical association.)
"Wildlife seem to enjoy the surroundings as much as humans do – mule deer, coyote, falcons, hawks and an adventuresome mountain lion or two have been spotted there. Archaeological investigation, funded through a State Historical Fund grant, has substantiated prehistoric and historic American Indian occupation as evidenced by the finding of stone dart tips, arrow heads, and petrified wood used in tool manufacturing.  The local clay was mined for use in ceremonial paint as well as pottery making.  A homestead site within the boundary confirms the use of the property by Euro-American settlers in the 1800’s.  The significance of the site has led to the designation of the Calhan Paint Mines Archaeological District by the National Park Service.  Used by hikers, birdwatchers and as an outdoor laboratory by geology students, the site has come under the protection of the El Paso County Parks Department.  A recent State Historical Fund grant has gone toward funding a master plan to balance the legitimate public uses and to address threats such as “pot hunting” and vandalism," History Colorado says.
 Over time, the State Historical Fund has awarded $82,000 to the El Paso County Parks Department for archaeological survey and master planning at the Calhan Paint Mines.
"Located in the northeast section of the County near Calhan with approximately 750 acres. The paint mines have evidence of human life as far back as 9,000 years ago. The colorful clays were used by Native Americans. The park features fantastic geological formations including spires and hoodoos that were formed through erosive action that created incised gullies and exposed layers of seienite clay and jasper. The park includes a restroom facility, four miles of trails, interpretive signage, and many natural wonders," says El Paso County. Though, in a cruel nod to the mystery of the place, the restrooms are not always open.  Parking can fill up as well.
"The unique geological formations and colorful clays have been attracting visitors for thousands of years. Early archaeological evidence of Native American use at the site dates back over 9,000 years. Because of these valuable archeological resources within the park,  the area is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, said Justin Henderson, in the a Parks Management Plan for El Paso County in 2010, when the county first acquired the responsibility for managing the park.
"In addition to these cultural resources, the park also features many natural and recreational resources. The Badland geology of the site has led to erosive forces that have cut deep gullies in the surrounding hills, exposing clay while at the same time creating amazing geological formations called hoodoos and spires. The grasslands and prairie provide a natural setting for the Park on the Front Range, which is experiencing tremendous growth and sprawl. Through a partnership with the Palmer Land Trust, sections of the Park are protected under a conservation easement. These natural geological features and open prairie landscapes attract visitors to the Park, and are a valuable scenic as well as recreational resource for the community. Only a thirty-five minute drive from downtown Colorado Springs, Paint Mines provides a uniquely different park experience for residents of El Paso County," noted Henderson, at the time.
To me, it is still a mystery that more people don't know about this place.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Difficulties at the saloon locally

'I'm hanging John Barley Corn'

By Rob Carrigan, robcarrigan1@gmail.com

Ernest Hemingway often said he drank to make other people more interesting. A little more than 100 years ago, it became increasing difficult to get a drink here in Colorado.  And here in Monument ...
Well, off and on, between the Whiskey men and temperance — it was interesting.

“In 1912, an amendment to prevent the manufacture and sale of liquor was submitted to the electorate,” wrote Carl Ubbelohde, Maxine Benson and Duane A. Smith in A Colorado History.

“The voters defeated the proposal. But that defeat stirred the various groups to common action. Submerging their differences, they sponsored another amendment two years later. This time the voters answered the question of ratification affirmatively, approving an experiment in social engineering, despite a two-to-one rejection of the amendment in Denver. The ‘wet’ forces in the capital city threatened to use the new ‘home rule’ prerogatives of the city to escape the effect o the law, but on Jan 1, 1916, prohibition became the rules in Denver and all of Colorado.”

Colorado was joined by six other states, (Iowa, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Arkansas, and South Carolina) at that stroke of midnight as 1500 saloons across the state, 500 hotels, restaurant and drugstores stopped selling, and 12 beer breweries closed.

Locally, here in Monument, liquor and bad characters seemed to go hand in hand.

Lucillle Lavelett documented it this way in "Through the Years at Monument" and "Monument's Faded Neighbor Communities and Its Folk Lore."

"Monument always had its saloons and whiskey men. Two murders were committed in Limbach saloon. A feud between Daniel Davidson and Francis Brown developed over a cattle transaction, each accused the other of stealing cattle, On Oct. 21, 1876, they met in the saloon and exchanged words. Davidson drew his pistol and shot Brown twice. Brown died almost instantly.

"He is buried in the Monument Cemetery, and his stone reads: 'He was killed.' A trial was held in February, 1877. The jury found Davidson guilty. His lawyers obtained a writ of supersedeos and he was released on bond of $5,000. Almost three years of litigation followed. The second trial began on Feb. 13, 1880 and on Feb, 21, Davidson was found not guilty. He was elected to the Town Board in 1881 and Davidson was the promoter of the ordinance passed prohibiting the shooting of firearms in town, and increasing liquor licenses $300 per year," Lavelett wrote.

"The second murder committed in a saloon was a feud between Rube Pribble and a Mr. Neff.  Mr. Pribble accused Neff of stealing a plow from him. Mr. Pribble shot and killed Neff. On Sunday morning when he was shown Neff's body, his only words were, "I have killed my best friend."

Pribble was found guilty and sentenced to life in the penitentiary. On the second trial it was brought out Neff had not stolen the plow but a third party had, and hid it in the barn. Pribble, this time was sentenced to 25 years, but died of pneumonia in a short time," reported Lavelett.

With prohibition, many saloons became lunch counters and soft drink fountains and for the first time, women (other than those working the saloons) were welcomed.

In Monument, however, Limbach's Saloon became a pool hall operated by Bob Burell for a few years, starting in 1916, on the east side of Front Street. Saloons already had periodically faced challenges here in town.

"The license fee to sell liquor in 1897 was $500. The town had a very active Women's Christian Temperance Union (W.C. T.U.) There was always battles going on between Temperance folks and Whiskey men," Lavelett wrote.

"The Whiskey men usually won every town election, except in April 1896. That year Ordinance No. 33 was passed prohibiting selling liquor in town. The W.C.T.U. folks sent a thank you resolution to Board Members to be written in the minutes. Evidently the Whiskey men gave the Temperance a bad time for it. One by one, Temperance resigned, until Whiskey got power again and Ordinance No. 36 repealed Ordinance No. 33, and the saloons were open again. One W.C.T.U. lady would gather up the whiskey bottles and hang them by the neck on her fence and put up a sign saying 'I am hanging John Barley Corn.'"

It had been an ongoing battle, according to Lavelett.

As early as  1881, the Monument Saloon was fined for keeping the window shades down on Sunday.

"Monument did not have a "peeping Tom" but there was a woman that lived in town who was very much opposed to saloons, and she was named 'peeping Sal.' She wanted to know who the men were who spent their evenings at the saloon, so she could give their wives a bad time. Most every night, she would go peek in the windows of the saloon, and several times the men had seen her."

Peeping Sal was known for disappearing down a narrow, one-way passage between the saloon and another nearby building, when spotted and she then remained in hiding. Reportedly, she was cured of the habit by saloon patrons pretending to be oblivious, urinating out of second story window into the hiding place.

"That was the cure for the peeping and the end of the sarcastic remarks to the ladies who husbands went to the saloon," Lavelett reported.

Photo Information:
1. Bob Burrel's Pool Hall, about 1917, man with the hat unknown, man with cap John Pribble.

2. Limbach Saloon, circa 1885.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Originally Woodland Park CCC Camp builds roads, fights fire, manages floods and more

Work leads to improved physical condition, 

heightened morale, and increased employability

 Saylor Park, described as a beautiful spot fourteen miles north and east of Woodland Park, and approximately eight miles west of Palmer Lake — on what was then the largest national forest in the country, the Pike — was the location of formation. Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) Company 1819, later to become Camp F-14-C, was organized here starting June 26, 1933.
"Instead of finding neatly constructed barracks already prepared for them, the men were given tents to erect, and until these were erected the men slept in the open at an altitude of 9,000 feet," reported a 1938 history of the CCC. "The first few weeks, meals were served in the open under an Aspen tree, with no shelter to protect the men from rain or wind, during meal time."
The Civilian Conservation Corps was a public work relief program that operated from 1933 to 1942 in the United States for unemployed, unmarried, men. Originally for young men ages 18–25, it was eventually expanded to young men ages 17–28. The CCC was a major part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal that provided unskilled manual labor jobs related to the conservation and development of natural resources in rural lands owned by federal, state and local governments.
The CCC was designed to provide jobs for young men, and to relieve families who had difficulty finding jobs during the Great Depression in the United States. At the same time, it implemented a general natural resource conservation program in every state and territory. Maximum enrollment at any one time was 300,000. Over the course of its nine years in operation, 3 million young men participated in the CCC, which provided them with shelter, clothing, and food, together with a small wage of $30 a month, ($25 of which had to be sent home to their families).
"A number of projects were started shortly after the camp had been constructed and organized to some extent. Timber stand improvement was perhaps the major project undertaken the first summer. A side camp was established at the Monument Nursery doing nursery work and a road was constructed from Woodland Park to the camp," according to CCC records.
"Early in November of 1933, due to the high altitude and existing weather conditions, the company moved to Manitou Springs, for the winter months."
During that winter, road work began on an important project.
"A purposed road project from Garden of the Gods in Manitou Springs up over Bald Mountain by way of Williams Canyon to connect with Mount Herman Road a few miles North of Woodland Park," was described. "This project has been name and designated as the 'Rampart Range Road.'"
Also, at about the same time, work began on a series of flood control dams on Fountain Creek in Ute Pass above Manitou Springs. In the process, a number o model relief maps were made in the camp, that were used for years later, and even today, in the Pikes Peak region.
"On June 1, 1934, the main camp was moved back to Saylor Park for the summer and construction was started on a road north from Saylor Park to Devils Head. Several other projects as rodent control, timber stand improvement, and fence and trail construction, were carried on during the summer.  A side camp composed of from sixty to eighty men had been left in Manitou Springs to continue to work on Dams "One" and "Four." A side camp was also maintained at the Monument Nursery doing nursery work," records indicate.
But just as Norman Maclean, the great writer of forests and men sent into them, noted, “time was just a hangover from the past with no present meaning.”
"Due to the severe drought during the summer of 1934, a great fire hazard was created. The later part of June the entire company was ordered out on a fire known as the "Tarryall Fire," on the Tarryall range of mountains. At altitudes of ten and and eleven thousand feet, in the most rugged part of the mountains, fire fighting was extremely dangerous. During the fire, men worked from eighteen to twenty hours per shift, with occasionally no meals, and the best bed one could secure consisted of one or two blankets with the nearest tree for shelter," according the CCC history written in 1938.
"On Memorial Day of 1935, one of the worst floods known in the Pikes Peak region took place in Colorado Springs. Immediately the entire company was taken to Colorado Springs to aid the flood victims to safety, and later help guard property and regulate traffic. A good many of the victims were housed and fed in the camp until they could be cared for otherwise."
In the summer of 1935, Camp 1819 headquartered at Manitou Springs, and a new side camp of nearly fifty men at Watson Park worked on Devils Head fire lookout. Another side camp continued work at the Monument Nursery through the summer, and a crew of about 100 men worked from the main camp tasked with flood control in the Ute Pass area.
"In early fall of 1935, the Jackson Creek side camp moved to Manitou Springs, and had by this time broken through with the Devils Head road to the Denver Highway," said CCC records.
"The Monument side camp remained at the Monument Nursery all winter. Work at the nursery consisted of mulching the tree beds and clearing another plot of ground which made the nursery twice as large and necessitated an increase in men at that side camp to take care of additional work. During the winter months another side camp was maintained at Woodland Park doing timber survey work in that area. As the first month of 1936 had slipped by, the series of flood control dams in the Ute Pass has been completed. Dam 'Eight' at Crystola being the last. After the completion of the dams, all men went to work on the 'Rampart Range Road.'"
In the summer of 1936, and on through the year, the camp continued to grow its presence at the Monument Nursery, and another side camp was working at Glen Cove, and others doing timber survey work in the Woodland Park area. During the winter of '36 and '37, men from main camp concentrated on finishing the lower portion of Rampart Range Road.
The side camp work continued during next years, with the establishment of sewer system at Glen Cove, additional participation in work at the Monument Nursery, with the eventual re-establishment of Company 3810 from Texas at Monument. The main camp moved out of Manitou Springs eventually back to its former home of Company F-64-C in Saylor Park and three side camps continued to operate, by 1938.
"Since its inception in June 1933, nearly eleven hundred-fifty men have been enrolled or transferred into the company. Of that number, more than nine hundred men have returned to civilian life in thirteen state. During the more than five years of its life, the company has been station within fifty miles of its birthplace at Saylor Park, Colorado. A great deal of valuable work has been completed which will long stand as a monument to the unstinted efforts of all members of the enrolled and supervisory personnel."
The American public made the CCC the most popular of all the New Deal programs. An individual's enrollment in the CCC was said to lead to improved physical condition, heightened morale, and increased employability. The CCC also led to a greater public awareness and appreciation of the outdoors and the nation's natural resources, and the continued need for a carefully planned, comprehensive national program for the protection and development of natural resources.

Photo information:
1. Workers of CCC Company F-64-C canting timber.
2. Building roads was a big part of the local efforts.
3. Replanting trees without modern equipment was labor intensive.
4. August 8, 1934 call to muster, at CCC camp near Monument Rock.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Family had an early start near White River

W.S. Taylor, my great grandfather, brought out his wife and infant daughter out from Minnesota to the White River area (Axial Basin between Craig and Meeker) in the spring of 1882. That
infant daughter, was my great Aunt Ruth, and later their other children, Verda, Cecil (my grandmother), Milton and Marian, were born at their home in Axial Basin. These children were some of the earliest pioneers in this section of the country.

W.S. Taylor, came here because his brother Gene Taylor, had been here as an Indian scout, for several years. Gene Taylor and Joe Collom (another distant relative) are both mentioned in Marshal Sprague's book, "Massacre on the White River."

"I was born on February 9, 1882. My mother and I came to Rawlins on the train, in July 1882. My father met us at Rawlins and with a team and wagon, and brought us to Axial. He had come to Axial earlier, but I don't know what month. He came with his sister, and a cousin, Charlie Wilson, because one of his brothers had come earlier. His brother was interested in the Indian Agency, he worked with Indians quite a bit," my Aunt Ruth Taylor Jordan said in "This is what I remember: History of Rio Blanco County," in 1972.

"He was named Willie when he was born but when he got grown up, he didn't like that name, so he always wrote it William," she said.

"My dad ranched some at Axial, and he did carpenter work and some blacksmithing — he did a little of everything. He did quite a bit of surveying, and while he never took a course in engineering, he understood enough about it. He had a transit and he used to run ditch levels and road grades and things like that," Aunt Ruth said.

When the Ferdinand Hayden surveys of the Front Range and up through Yellowstone, went through that part of the country, my great granddad employed that transit with Hayden and others, such as renowned photographer William Henry Jackson. During his twelve years of labor and annual survey journeys, Hayden's work resulted in the most valuable series of volumes in all branches of natural history and economic science; and he issued in 1877 his "Geological and Geographical Atlas of Colorado." The last of the annual survey journeys was in 1878, but upon the reorganization and establishment of the United States Geological Survey in 1879, Hayden acted for seven years as one of the geologists. Hayden died in Philadelphia on December 22, 1887.

"I went to school in Axial; it was just one room then. There has been more built on since. There was anywhere from nine to twenty students, most of them came on horseback. The first year, we had two months of school, and the second year we had four months of school. After that, we had an eight-month school. We had four months in the spring, and then we skipped two months in the summer, then four months in the fall," Ruth Taylor Jordan related in the 1972 history.

Events of were not too removed either physically, or in time sequence, from trouble between white settlers and the Utes in that area.

Meeker Massacre was a conflict that occurred when the Utes attacked an Indian agency on September 29, 1879. They killed the Indian agent, Nathan Meeker and his 10 male employees. They took some women and children—including Meeker's wife and daughter—as hostages to secure their own safety as they fled and held them for 23 days. Troops from Fort Steele in Wyoming were called in.

The government sent approximately 150-200 soldiers, led by Major Thomas T. Thornburgh, commander of Fort Steele in Wyoming. When the troops were about 50 miles from the Indian Agency, a group of Ute rode out to meet them. The Ute said they wanted a peace conference with Meeker, and would allow Thornburgh and five soldiers to come. Remembering the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864, the Ute wanted the main body of soldiers to stay 50 miles away on a hill which they designated. Thornburgh ignored their demand and continued into the restricted Ute land.

At Milk Creek on the northern edge of the reservation, about 18 miles from the Agency, Ute warriors attacked Thornburgh's forces. In the first few minutes' exchange of fire, Major Thornburgh and 13 men were killed, including all his officers above the rank of captain. Another 28 men were wounded and three-quarters of the horses and mules were killed, but troops dug in behind the wagon trains and animals' bodies for defense. One man rode hard to get out a request for reinforcements. The US forces held out for several days. They were reinforced by 35 black cavalrymen (known as Buffalo Soldiers) from Fort Lewis in southern Colorado, who got through the enemy lines.

Interestingly enough, my father's birth certificate (Wayne Carrigan) who was born in 1928 on the ranch homesteaded later by Grandfather on Morapas Creek, lists Thornburgh as place of birth.

"I was afraid of the Indians," remembered my Great Aunt Ruth, of her early childhood. "One time we all went to Meeker. My family wanted to have some pictures taken, and they wanted me to stand by them, but I wouldn't. I was bound and determined I was going to sit on dad's lap, and that's the way the picture was finally taken. There were so many pictures of Indians in the studio that I knew Indians were around someplace. Sometimes, Indians would come to our house to see my uncle. One time there was an Indian there, I'd gone to the bedroom and got up on the bed, clear back next to the wall. The Indian came to the door and he had some beads; he wanted me to come get the beads, but I wouldn't do it and didn't get the beads," recalled Ruth Taylor Jordan, in 1972.

From the Utes' perspective, Colorow was one of several leaders of a small, unsophisticated splinter group of Utes in Northwestern Colorado, called the White River Band. In the spring of 1879, Colorow's followers were pressured by local Indian agent, Nathan Cook Meeker, to plant a field of garden crops in a field they had traditionally used to graze their horses.”

Meeker’s miscalculation made members of the band mad.

“In anger, one of the Utes confronted Meeker and ultimately threw him to the ground. Meeker overreacted and sent telegrams to Gov. Pitkin, 200 miles away in Denver, requesting troops be sent for his protection. The army, lulled by general peace on the frontier, and anxious to give its men some "field experience," sent two companies of cavalry and one mounted infantry, (about 200 men) from Wyoming's Fort Steele near Rawlins with specific instructions that the Utes not be molested,” says material from Aspen History Society.

“The Utes, however, clearly remembering the massacre at Sand Creek 15 years earlier, panicked. Many moved to new camps or fled the area. But, in the ensuing confusion, a shot was fired beginning events, which would end in the grizzly death of Meeker and all other agency employees. In addition, two women, including Meeker's wife, and two children were abducted by the Utes.

Colorow explained at the investigation into these events that the stake driven through Meeker's mouth had been necessary "to stop his infernal lying on his way to the spirit world.”

After what became known as the Meeker Massacre in 1879, the White River Utes were sent to the Uintah Indian Reservation on the Colorado-Utah border.

“Colorow was one of the last to leave and promised, ‘I go now. In winter I come back - hunt deer and elk.’ Every winter for seven years he returned to his Shining Mountains for the traditional winter hunt. Eventually the white men grew too numerous. Colorow and his men retired to the red rocks and made almost daily rounds of the settlers demand­ing food, clothing and anything else to which they took a fancy. One particularly notable fancy was biscuits, thick with syrup, which Colorow would eat as fast and as long as a ranch wife could bake them,” according a Ken-Caryl Ranch history, on the other side of the divide.

But the Taylor family didn't make it out of Axial Basin much, in those days.

"We didn't come to Meeker very often, but it was the only town around, There was just a log cabin in what is Craig now. It took several hours to make the trip. I don't remember just how long, but when we did come, we always spent the night," said Ruth Taylor Jordan.

Photo Info:

1. An etching that appeared in the December 6, 1879 edition of Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper depicts the aftermath of the "Meeker Massacre." Meeker grave at lower left; W.H. Post grave at lower right.

2. Nathan Meeker.

3. Colorow.

4. Buffalo Soldiers of the 25th Infantry Regiment in 1890, Montana.


Friday, December 15, 2017

Dolores CCC Camp alleviates unemployment distress

Library, sports, education all part of program

By Rob Carrigan, robcarrigan1@gmail.com

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), was the first of the national recovery organizations set up by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, following his inauguration on March 4, 1933. Locally, the Dolores Camp, under two different company occupations, did important work in the river valley.
"Launched on April 5, 1933, as a move to alleviate distress caused by unemployment through the establishment of a great chain of camps where young men would work on forest and park conservation projects, the CCC won instant approval from the public and the press. By July 4, 1933, the conservation corps was enrolled to its full authorized strength of 100,000 men,"  wrote Robert Fechner, Director of the CCC, five years later.
"Since that time, an average of more than 340,000 young men and war veterans have been constantly at work on park, forest and soil erosion projects," he said.
In rural Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico, it is hard to find a small town that did not have a camp at one time or another. Amazing work, like the construction of structures in Red Rocks Amphitheater, and rock walls and buildings in Mesa Verde National Park, and railroad bridgework that is still in place today around the state, bear evidence of the organization's lasting impact.
In Southwestern Colorado, Camp 53-C, was the builder of rock bridges in the area in around Dolores, Colorado.
"On the project, company 898 has many monuments to its industry," notes a history of the Dolores Camp 53-C. "There are nine rock bridges that will endure longer than the men who built them. There is the McPhee Truck Trail and the Lone Dome Truck Trail, which through the company's industry, have made a large part of Montezuma Forest accessible for lumbering and recreational purposes. Some work on the improvement camp grounds, begun by 898, will be finished by Company 2118. The Cottonwood Truck Trail, built by a side camp of Company 898 in the summer of 1936, offers a short cut between the West Dolores and the Norwood roads. The entire Montezuma Forest was covered by this company in insect control work. Many stock trails and drift fences were built."
The place even had a woodworking shop and a dark room for photography.
"In the Library of Congress and in the foot lockers of many members of the old Company are copies of the Company paper, 'The Score.'" For two years this paper was published by Company 898.
And there were athletes in every barracks at the camp.
"Company 898, in athletics, will be remembered by many of their opponents for their formidable oppositions. In 1935, they were district baseball champions. In 1936 they were sub-district champions. In 1937, they were not defeated in the entire season, but did not enter a district tournament," said a late '30s history. Company 898 was disbanded in July of 1938 and men from the camp were sent to Meredith, Colorado and to Company 861 at Mesa Verde, Colorado. A new company with recruits from Hartford, Connecticut, and Fort Devins, Massachusetts, along with several other eastern cities, reformed as Company 2118, which was transported by "a Pullman train of exceptional length" across the country, "passing through the Great Lakes Region, the Corn Belt, the Wheat Belt, the Cattle Country, the train finally arrived at Alamosa.
"The companies changed from Pullmans to two narrow gauge railroad trains. Having never traveled on a narrow gauge train, the remainder of the trip was a novelty to this Eastern Company."
Company 2118 was working throughout Montezuma National Forest (even the signs called it that) under the supervision of G.W. Bauer, Project Superintendent.
"In the town of Dolores, which is seven miles from camp, it is landscaping the dwelling of the ranger. At Lone Dome, Transfer, Priest Gulch, Forks, and Mavareese, the company is building campgrounds. In the line of fire pre-suppression, the company mans the McPhee Lookout Tower. In order to have a means of conveying fire fighting equipment and men to forest fires, the company maintains the Glade, McPhee, West Dolores, West Mancos, and Lone Dome Truck Trails," said documents at the time.
"The construction of bridges at Cottonwood and Fish Creeks on the West Dolores Truck Trails is a noteworthy project," said the late 1930s history. "Not only will these bridges prevent washouts, but they will aid tourist in enjoying the beauty of the West Dolores River and Canyon."
Many of the men in camp desired improvement, and attainment of new skills,  in hard times of the 1930s, and the Dolores camp was no exception.
"The education program at the camp is under the supervision of David S. Sutherland. Classes in woodworking, blacksmithing, powder work, forestry, mathematics, algebra, photography, typing, first aid, truck operation, psychology, economics, current events, and upper grade school work are offered to the men. The old schoolhouse of Company 898 was remodeled to house a woodworking shop and a dark room. Many pleasant and instructive hours are  passed in developing and printing pictures in the dark room. The woodworking class, under the guidance of Mr. Dougherty, is making interesting souvenirs out of red cedar," it was reported.
"The library, consisting of some 800 books, is in constant use. A small library is established at the Dunton Side Camp. Once a week, books are taken to the Mancos Side Camp, to be distributed to the men there."
Members of Company 2118 were from Eastern states and new to the area.
"They soon became acquainted with the country and resident of the nearby town. They have learned to like and respect the people as they have become acquainted. Many of the men spend their leisure time taking pictures and developing them. Others go horse-back riding, swimming, hiking, and searching for Indian relics," said camp documents.
The basic cash allowance for all CCC men enrolled in the 1930s was $30 per month, of which $25 had to be allotted to dependents. Leaders and assistant leaders made a little more.
"Since July 1, 1933, an average of more than 300,000 families has been receiving allotment checks each month allotted by members of the corps," wrote Director Fechner in the late 1930s.
"At the time the CCC was initiated, the sponsors of this new venture in social relief stated that its major objectives were to give jobs to hundreds of thousands of discouraged and undernourished young men, idle through no fault of their own, to build up these young men physically and spiritually and to start the nation on a sound, conservative program which would conserve and expand timbered resources, increase recreational opportunities and reduce the annual toll taken by forest fire, disease, pests, soil erosion and floods."