Saturday, July 5, 2008

No respect for Ramona


Named after Helen Hunt Jackson’s famous book, the Colorado town of Ramona is barely remembered -- though it never was able to command much respect.
“When General Palmer created Colorado Springs he stipulated there would be no boozing and sinning in his beautiful new city,” wrote Perry Eberhart in Ghosts of the Colorado Plains.
As result, most of the sinning and boozing occurred in Colorado City or Manitou Springs. But every so often, those cities would make efforts to “clean up” as well.
“In 1906, when the ‘decent folk’ swept Colorado City clean of all bordellos and other sin centers, the ‘gang’ moved just north of Colorado City. It was a scattered, shanty-type operation for a while, nothing substantial to shoot at by local officials,” says Eberhart.
By 1913, however, incorporation papers had been filed for the town of Ramona.
“There is no secret that the purpose of starting the new town is to have that town given over wholly to the perpetuation of the liquor traffic, and all of its attendant evils …” preached the Colorado City Iris at the time.
“Ramona, the new booze annex to Colorado City opened Monday Night in a blaze of glory, and according to the papers, ‘carriages met the cars at Fourth Street to carry patrons.’ But were the carriages on hand to haul them home – after the festivities ended,” noted the Colorado City Independent.
The town boundaries as they relate to present-day features were generally: on the south by St. Vrain Avenue, on the north by Cash La Poudre Street, the west a half block west of 26th Street and on the east by 23rd Street.
As an interesting side note, multiple sources including Ring Magazine lists boxing legend Jack Dempsey’s first official professional fight as taking place in Ramona on August 17, 1914, though many other sources credit him with additional forays as “Kid Blackie” in the mining camps of Colorado, Utah and Nevada. Dempsey fought Herman Young to a draw on that hot August day in Ramona.
Though county officials waged war against the vice in Ramona with frequent raids, arrests, fines and even an attempt to cut off its water source, it survived until January 6, 1916. Eventually, annexation and prohibition marked the end of the town of Ramona.
The Colorado City Independent wrote the obituary.
“No more will the musicians sit before the piano at Ramona and tickle the ivories, while men line up before the bar and keep time with the clink of glasses. No more will Colorado City officials be required to spend most of their time at the corner of Fourth and Colorado Avenue to act as a steering committee to pass the booze soaked hides, on down the line to Colorado Springs. The oasis has vanished from the desert and the thirsty souls must go to greener pastures or be satisfied with H2O,” lamented the Independent.
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