Thursday, July 31, 2008

No excuses, perhaps understanding

Bad is never good, until worse happens.
Difficult times are relative. In order to grasp how a particular attitude may have developed, it is important to know the history surrounding it. The history offers no excuses, but perhaps understanding.
“I was about ten years old when the Utes were moved to western Colorado,” wrote Margaret Benn, longtime Douglas County resident and historian in the early 1960s. “So, as a youngster on the ranch, I had several personal experiences that made me very sad to think I was not big enough to kill an Indian. In fact I will confess I was 35 or 40 years old before that desire finally faded entirely out of my mind.”
From 1860 to 1875, families living in the settlements near Glen Grove School on Upper West Plum Creek in Douglas County were compelled to protect their own scalps if they wished to continue wearing them, according to Benn’s letters.
“They formed the practice of keeping each other posted on the temper and location of all Indians, who might be roving the hills. Any sign of danger in any region was quickly communicated to others,’ she said,
“But settlers did not live in terror, as many imagined they did. They could cope with the primitive, elemental savagery of pioneer life in pretty much the same spirit of native birds who sang and nested happily, even though the hawks and eagles constantly soared overhead.”
Benn had come to Colorado from Missouri at the tender age of three and her family settled near an uncle’s homestead on Spring Creek.
“My Uncle George (Dakan) had helped build Fort Washington and was a member of the cavalry troop under Captain John A. Koontz. Very naturally, I grew up in that neighborhood, from early childhood to maturity among the original settlers, I heard their experiences often told and retold, by the men, women and children that made Fort Washington their haven of refuge,” Benn wrote.
Today, although there are no visible remains of the log stockade that enclosed a homestead cabin and a large well near Larkspur, the Ben Quick ranch, which was built later in 1885, marks the spot of Fort Washington. The site has been on the National Register of historic places since 1974.
“And when my family took up life in that community, the Ute Indians still roamed the hills and valleys for many miles both north and south of us. The east slope of the mountains from near where Fort Collins now stands, to Canon City was their home and their original hunting grounds,” according to Benn’s letters.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Powerfully ahead of its time

Isolation from the outside world created a real life Shangri-La.

By Rob Carrigan,

Way up, almost in the middle of nowhere, the Woods family (founders of Victor) constructed “the world’s first steel-lined, rock faced dam” and along with it, a marvelous woodstaved pipeline, cable car and brick powerhouse. The Pike Peak Power Company seemed to be way ahead of its time with the construction of Skaguay Reservoir competed in 1901. The plant continued to operate until 1965 when silt-laden flood waters eventually plugged the works and washed away fill.
Despite many other impressive projects in the district, Warren, Harry and Frank Woods’ largest project was probably the power plant that supplied Victor, Cripple Creek and Pueblo with hydroelectric power. Impressive, because such projects are measured against the founding of the town itself, the development of the Gold Coin, United Mines Transportation Tunnel, and other mining interests and the foundation of the First National Bank of Victor and the Golden Crescent Water and Light Company. Southern Colorado Power Company and is a descendent of Pikes Peak Power Company.
The company was formed on Sept. 2, 1899 and was located on Beaver Creek, according to an article penned Kenneth W. Geddes for Pikes Peak Westerners Posse in 1979.
“All in all, eighteen miles of stream were covered. The area is some of the most rugged, inaccessible terrain in Teller and Fremont Counties, and the streams are noted for extreme differences in elevation in short distances,” wrote Geddes.
Original plans contemplated the construction of a dam and three power stations but only the first was ever built and operated. Geddes says that no expense was spared in the construction of the dam and plant and it involved, among other things, the building of its own railroad and the blasting off of an adjoining hilltop with a car of powder. Also the cable car was the only means of accessing the plant other than climbing.
“A trip on the Short Line might bankrupt the English language, but it was almost a prairie run in comparison to the Skaguay cable car trip,” noted Geddes. “The isolation from the outside world created a real life Shangri-La.”
The 60-foot by 100-foot plant itself was made of brick with arched windows and a corrugated arched roof and three cottages were available for families that ran the plant.
“Often the plant employees were cut off from the outside world for a period of time in the winter — once up to three months. Their living conditions were pleasant even though isolated. Flowers and grass grew around the cottages in dirt hauled in from the tram. In this secluded area there was no smoke. Electricity was the sole source of energy for heat, refrigeration and cooking.”
Flood waters in June of 1965 knocked out reservoirs above Skaguay but the dam there held. The rush of waters over the spillway however, damaged the fill enough that it had to be drained and repaired. “The flood spelled the finish for Skaguay. The cable car tracks were removed after the plant was basically dismantled and the pipe taken up,” says Geddes.

Golden influence remarkable in Pikes Peak region

Few realize how deep, pervasive and intertwined golden vein entangles area influence and origin

By Rob Carrigan,

Nearly everyone knows of the impact of Cripple Creek gold on the history and construction of the city of Colorado Springs.
Mansions that line “Old North End” streets like Wood, Cascade, and Nevada Avenues owe their existence to the wealth generated in the mines. Public buildings like the Main Post Office, the Mining Exchange, and even the old courthouse that now houses the Pioneer’s Museum were paid for with district dirt. But few realize how deep, pervasive and intertwined that golden vein entangles area influence and origin.
An example resides in the coalmines in the northwestern area of the city.
“The Pikes Peak Fuel Division, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Golden Cycle Corp., produced and sold lignite coal at its Pikeview Mine, located just north of Colorado Springs, for many years,” wrote Max W. Bowen in a profile about the Golden Cycle Corp. in the December, 1960 edition of The Mines Magazine.
“During the World War II period, the power plant Pikeview, having capacity in excess of 8,000 kilowatts, served in a standby capacity to the city of Colorado Springs, thereby insuring the city of sufficient power capacity to serve the numerous armed services establishments in the region.”
“The Fuel Division also operated a sand, crushed rock and gravel business, supplying most of the concrete aggregate used in the region for the past several years. Prior to abandoning the railroad (Midland) in 1949, crushed rock aggregate was produced in the Cripple Creek District and shipped to Colorado Springs by rail,” Bowen wrote in 1960.
The development of the Woodman Valley area is also very much tied to Golden Cycle Corp. presence as well.
The Golden Cycle Corp secured clear title to Monument Park Land Company in 1913.
“From 1913 this corporation, or its subsidiary Pikes Peak Fuel, held most of the land from Pikeview into Woodman Valley. From the shaft at Pikeview, tunnels ran north and west through most of the area south of Woodman Road. Although there was also coal north of Woodman Road, the surface rock made the area generally unsuitable for mining,” according John Kitch, Jr. in his 1970 book Woodman Valley.
By 1959, the two smaller valleys north of where the Modern Woodman of America Sanatorium had been serving tuberculosis patients for years, were being called Hidden Valley and Red Spring Valley.
“Both were slowly being settled by new residents who had purchased homesites from the Golden Cycle Corporation,” wrote Kitch.
The sanatorium closed to patients in 1947 and by 1950, it had been purchased by wealthy financier and philanthropist Blevins Davis. Davis wife was heiress to a fortune originally linked to James Hill railroad money. (Davis at one time was partial owner of The Gold Rush newspaper.)
“He promptly sold off the 180 octagonal Gardiner cottages, many of which can still be seen in the Pikes Peak area. A rumor circulated at this time that the property was to be used for a Summer White House, allowing the entire presidential staff to escape the heat of Washington,” Kitch writes.
The Sisters of Saint Francis Seraph were eventually the benefactors of that land, more than $2.3 million dollars, and a Broadmoor mansion. Renamed St. Joseph’s Convent, Mount St. Francis, the property was dedicated as the order’s Mother House of the Western Province in 1954. It continues to serve in that capacity.

Golden Cycle image.

Photo 1:
Portland Mill and and Victor in the mining district from a USGS photograph.

Photo 2:
Colorado Springs & Interurban car about 1908.

Hands full of gold

I would hate to speculate, but things are looking up from here

By Rob Carrigan,

I originally wrote this more than a decade ago as the spot price of gold took an uptick. Sunday, August, 2020, the spot price was $2,035 per ounce, down slightly. Over time of course, it goes up and down with changes in the economy and political situations, which keeps investors checking the price of this precious metal every morning. Despite this level of speculation, gold continues to be the most popular investment precious metal for those that feel the need to get their hands on something tangible. For centuries, it has been a mysterious symbol of value and wealth.

As the price of gold holds the line at more than $900 an ounce, it becomes interesting to speculate. My own personal “what if” statement considers that price historically. “What if the price was always that high?”
In 2004, when Cripple Creek & Victor mining company poured its 2,000,000 ounce, all that value collected in one place would have been worth $1.8 billion (if I got all the zeros in the right place.) Those three buttons on the table that day— the ones they let you manhandle around —they might have been worth $1.08 million now. And what about earlier than that? The Cresson Vug alone, would price out at over $54 million.
A whole lot of gold was produced profitably in the district for less than $35 an ounce, the price reached in the early 1930s.
“On March 9, 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt pushed through the Emergency Banking Act, which authorized him to regulate and prohibit the export and hoarding of gold,” according to a chronology produced by Paul Morgensus of Hamilton, Montana, and provided to me by local historian Ed Hunter.
“Shortly after, on April 5, he issued an executive order to deliver all gold to the Federal Reserve… the action and subsequent actions caused total unrest among investors, bankers and others throughout the world. On July 30, Roosevelt made what became known as the ‘bombshell.’ He declared ‘rigid relationships to gold were old fashioned fetishes.’”
In January 1934, the president issued an executive order to establish the price of gold at $35 per ounce.
By 1940, the gold production had reached an all-time high in the United States; the eleventh consecutive year the industry had set a new production record.
“Gold is the only major commodity that isn’t produced primarily to be consumed in the economy — like iron, copper, pork bellies or oranges — but simply to be owned and admired,” observed the Wall Street Journal, in an April 12, 2006 article by E. S. Browning. “It is too heavy, soft and rare to have many practical uses outside of electronics and dentistry. Yet is one of the earth’s most prized objects, valued mostly because it is considered valuable.”
But it has been nearly as high before.
“The price, in retreat for almost two decades after peaking at $847 in 1980, has more than doubled in the past five years,” said the Journal article. In the last two years since the Journal article, the price has went from less than $600 to more than $900.
Of course the most interesting speculation resides in where gold’s price goes from here.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Mad bomber of Cripple Creek

After relating the twisting story of union boss “Big Bill” Haywood, it was made clear to me that I mustn’t forget the tale of Harry Orchard, the “Mad bomber of Cripple Creek.”
It was Harry Orchard’s confession to Pinkerton detective James McParland in February 1906 that tied Haywood and other union officials to the bombing of Independence rail platform, the bombing deaths of two miners in the Vindicator, and the murder of former Idaho Gov. Frank Steunenberg.
“I awoke, as it were, from a dream, and realized that I’d been made a tool of, aided and assisted by members of the Executive Board of Western Federation Miners. I resolved, as far as in my power, to break up this murderous organization and to protect the community from further assassinations and outrages from this gang,” his confession said.
Orchard’s real name was Albert Horsley and he grew up on an Ontario farm with seven brothers. He was also known to use the alias Thomas Hogan. He left Canada, after several years working in a cheese factory, when he was about 30 years old.
Working eventually in a silver mine in Burke, Idaho, Orchard joined the WFM and was among the thousand or so miners that hijacked a Northern Pacific train and then blew up the Bunker Hill concentrator, killing two men. According to his own admission, he was one of two who placed the dynamite and then lit the fuse.
“Orchard’s career as a paid union terrorist began in 1903 when he blew up the Vindicator mine in Colorado, again killing two men, for a fee of $500,” according a biography by faculty of the University of Missouri at Kansas City School of Law. “Six months later a bomb planted by Orchard at Independence train depot exploded, killing 13 non-union miners.”
In the same testimony, he also told of unsuccessful efforts to kill the Governor Peabody of Colorado, and two Colorado Supreme Court Justices. Also he admitted additional murders including deputy Lyle Gregory, of Denver, and the attempted poisoning and then successful bombing of Bunker Hill mining manager Fred Bradley in San Francisco.
Oscar King Davis of the New York Times described Orchard’s testimony in the Haywood trial as follows:
“Orchard spoke in a soft, purring voice, marked by a slight Canadian accent, and except for the first few minutes that he was on the stand, he went through his awful story as undisturbed as if he were giving and account of a May Day festival. When he said, ‘and then I shot him,’ his manner and tone were as matter-of-fact as if the words had been ‘and then I bought a drink.”
Orchard was tried and convicted in March 1908 for the murder of former Gov. Frank Steunenberg. He received a death sentence but it was commuted to life in prison by Judge Fremont Wood and the Board of Pardons and he served out his life sentence, raising chickens and growing strawberries, in Idaho State Penitentiary until his death in 1954 at age 87.

Big Bill Haywood

Six-foot-three-inch, gruff, imposing and sometimes-volatile figure with a thunderous voice, and a milky dead eye that he never replaced with a glass one.

By Rob Carrigan,

The story of “Big Bill” Haywood draws like a magnet and twists and twirls like a deadly snake. It winds and loops its murderous way into the fabric of labor history.
The son of a former Pony Express rider, Haywood was born in Salt Lake City in 1869. His dad died when he was three and after he punctured his right eye in accident involving a pocket knife and a slingshot, he was forced by family economics to go to work in the mines before he was ten years old.
As an adult, the six-foot-three-inch, gruff, imposing and sometimes-volatile figure with a thunderous voice, and a milky dead eye that he never replaced with a glass one, became one of the most feared radicals in the American labor movement.
In 1902, Haywood and Charles Moyer assumed leadership of the Western Federation of Miners. In his own words from a speech in 1911 in New York City, Haywood noted the importance of the Cripple Creek strike.
“Then came the general strike in Cripple Creek, the strike that has become a household word in labor circles throughout the world. In Cripple Creek 5,000 men were on strike in sympathy with 45 men belonging to the Millmen's Union in Colorado City; 45 men who had been discharged simply because they were trying to improve their standard of living. By using the state troops and the influence of the Federal government they were able to man the mills in Colorado City with scab millmen; and after months of hardship, after 1,600 of our men had been arrested and placed in the Victor Armory in one single room that they called the "bullpen," after 400 of them had been loaded aboard special trains guarded by soldiers, shipped away from their homes, dumped out on the prairies down in New Mexico and Kansas; after the women who had taken up the work of distributing strike relief had been placed under arrest--we find then that they were able to man the mines with scabs, the mills running with scabs, the railroads conveying the ore from Cripple Creek to Colorado City run by union men--the connecting link of a proposition that was scabby at both ends! We were not thoroughly organized. There has been no time when there has been a general strike in this country.”
Haywood would wind up the striking miners with thunderous shouts of “Eight hours of work, eight hours of play, eight hours of sleep — eight hours a day.”
"So when the miners in the Cripple Creek and Telluride districts went out on strike in August 1903, led by WFM president Charles Moyer and head organizer “Big Bill” Haywood, the mine owners were ready with a fast and vicious response. As soon as the general strike began in August, General Bell himself led 1,000 guardsmen to Cripple Creek, and sent another 1,000 (all of them funded by the Colorado Mine Owners’ Association) to Telluride," according to George Sibley, who teaches at Western State College in Gunnison.
"They practiced a kind of 'preemptive justice,' declaring martial law in both those potentially volatile areas before anything actually happened, suspending all constitutional guarantees and setting up barb-wire bullpens in public places where anyone who looked at a guardsman cross-eyed was immediately incarcerated," Sibley wrote in Colorado Central Magazine in 2003.
"When a lawyer came with a writ of habeas corpus to free some of his miner clients, Bell shouted, “Habeas corpus, hell! We’ll give them post mortems!” When someone mentioned the Constitution, he said: “To hell with the Constitution!” We’re not following the Constitution!”
Haywood often had to travel in secret through the mining camps and he is widely blamed for inciting much of Colorado violence that culminated in the 1904 bombing of the railroad platform at Independence in which thirteen died.
Then, according to Faces of Protest web site, “Shortly after Christmas in 1905, former Idaho Governor Frank Steunenberg was returning to his home in Caldwell after a day in his nearby office. As he opened his garden gate a bomb exploded, shattering the forty-four-year-old Steunenberg’s body. He died within hours.”
“Local police quickly arrested a suspicious figure staying at the Caldwell hotel. He eventually was identified as Harry Orchard. Under grueling questioning by law enforcement and Pinkerton private detectives, Orchard confessed to being an assassin hired by the Western Federation of Miners.”
Orchard claimed the hit had been ordered by Charles Moyer, “Big Bill” Haywood and former board member George Pettibone.
The Pinkerton men secretly arrested the three in no-knock raids in Denver in 1906 and “extradited” them to Idaho. (It was reported at the time, Haywood was found sleeping with his sister-in-law.)
Billed as “the trial of the century,” Haywood was able to secure Clarence Darrow as his defense attorney, and pay for it with small donations from union members around the country. During the trial, Orchard also confessed to killing two men with a bomb in the Vindicator Mine, as well as many other murders for hire and sport.
Despite that testimony and amid suggestions that the trial was rigged, Haywood was acquitted. Darrow depicted Haywood as victim of mine-owners conspiring against him in order to silence him.
Leaving the Western Federation of Miners in 1908 to work with a more aggressive union, he channeled his efforts into Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), the “Wobblies.” By 1915 he had become the leader of the IWW and managed strikes in New Jersey and Washington State.
From the head of “Wobblies,” Haywood was said to advocate sabotage or “direct action” against employers refusing to recognize union organization efforts.
“Wobblies were explicit about their eventual goal of toppling capitalism, and many of their leaders, including Haywood, expressed open admiration for the young Soviet Union,” according to PBS documentary “The West.”
Haywood, in addition to his reputation as a solid socialist, was also known for his atheism. Christianity, he said, “was all nonsense, based on that profane compilation of fables called the Bible.”
Arrested during World War I and convicted of violating the federal espionage and sedition act by calling a strike during wartime, Haywood served a year in Leavenworth. While out on bail pending an appeal of that conviction, he fled the country and went to Moscow. There, he became a “trusted advisor” of the Bolshevik government. He was often used as spokesman for worker advancements claimed by Vladimir Lenin and other Marxist but some historians claim he soon became disenchanted with corruption and abuses of power.
Haywood died in 1928 and his ashes were divided and half were buried in a wall of honor at the Kremlin. Half were returned to the United States and buried at monument to American workers in Chicago.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Murder near Greenland

Greenland takes a turn toward violence

 By Rob Carrigan,

Greek philosopher Seneca said a sword never kills anybody; it’s a tool in the killer’s hand. It turns out that the same can be said of Spencer V. Dicks’ revolver.
Greenland looks all-the-world like a peaceful big meadow but one August evening near the turn-of-the century, the road about midway between I.J. Noe’s place and the town itself, took a turn toward violence.
“The people of Douglas County were startled this week by a cold-blooded murder which occurred in the county road a mile west of Greenland about 7 o’clock Sunday evening,” reported the August 31, 1900 edition of the Castle Rock Journal. “The victim was Orville Minor and his slayer was Spencer V. Dicks. Both were young men about 23 years of age. The killing was the result of unreasonable jealousy and was apparently deliberately planned. Love for a 16-year-old girl was at the bottom of the whole affair.”
The complicated twists and turns of the various relationships leading up to the brutal outcome are bit hard to follow but the Castle Rock Journal, at the time at least, was willing to give it a shot.
“Dicks had for several months been engaged to marry Miss Minnie Hutchinson, the daughter of C.E. Hutchinson, a respected citizen of this county. The young man formerly worked as a farm hand for J.C. Babcock, a brother-in-law of Miss Hutchinson, with whom she now makes her home, but six months ago left there and commenced working for Charles Allis on a ranch east of Palmer Lake. His attentions to the young lady did not begin in earnest until after he had gone to the Allis ranch to live,” the Journal said.
“Orville Minor was a brother-in-law of Miss Hutchinson’s brother, Rollie Hutchinson having married Miss Catherine Minor. He had been for quite a time been employed at the Greenland farm, leaving there a week ago Monday. He worked at the Charles Brand’s ranch a couple of days and then went to the C.E. Hutchinson ranch, of which Rollie Hutchinson now has charge. There Miss Dora Van Epps, to whom Minor was engaged, was visiting, and it was only Sunday that Miss Van Epps returned to Castle Rock. By some it is claimed that Minor, notwithstanding his engagement, had been endeavoring to win the affections of Miss Hutchinson, although this seems doubtful, considering the fact that his own wedding day was set for the early part of next month.”
Anyway, Minor who was to visit Babcock’s ranch that fateful Sunday apparently innocently enough was asked to take Miss Hutchinson into Greenland by buggy before the arrival of Dicks who she was expecting.
When Dicks did arrive, and after a short exchange with the two in the buggy, he went on to the Babcock place and spoke angrily with Miss Hutchinson’s sister, Mrs. Babcock telling her, according to the paper’s account, that “This is the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
After riding once again toward the couple in the buggy headed toward Greenland, Dicks met Minor and the girl about midway between Noe’s place and the town, where the road dropped into a deep valley.
“Minnie I didn’t think this of you!” he reportedly remarked.
“Minor started to explain that he intended no harm, and went on to say, ‘I am expecting to be married myself a week from Monday.’ Dicks replied, ‘I don’t whether you will or not,’ and pulling a gun, fired directly at Minor and aimed a second shot at Miss Hutchinson. He then rode away rapidly towards Greenland.”
According to the newspaper account, “Minor, when shot rose up from the buggy seat and fell over in the road, dead. The girl thought she was also shot, although she was uninjured, the bullet having struck a steel stay in her corset and glanced off.”
Apparently Dicks headed south after the shooting.
“He stopped at Sugar City,” reported the Journal. “Where he had his mustache removed and his long hair cut. He then started for Rocky Ford, still riding the horse he had taken from Mr. Allis. At Sugar City he secured a newspaper, and from it first learned that his bullet had not killed Miss Hutchinson. It then that he resolved to surrender rather than lead a hunted life for the rest of his days.”
Dicks surrendered the following Wednesday in Rocky Ford to Douglas County Sheriff Hoffman after sending a telegraph saying he would do so.
“Dicks says he is going to fight for a light sentence. He claims that he shot Minor because the latter had been talking about his girl,” the Journal also reported.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Higby's jet engine was way ahead of his time

Perhaps just too far ahead of the times

By Rob Carrigan,

As early as 1928, William Eugene Higby had formalized his idea to move a plane along the ground or in the air by means of a blast of air projected from the plane. His early model for jet propulsion took the form of a patent at the United States Patent Office filed on Jan. 24, of that year.
Higby, a prominent cattleman in the Monument area, and later the Lieutenant Governor of Colorado, was granted the patent March 12, 1929.

“But because of the cost of developing the idea, for one thing, nothing was done about suiting the theory to practice,” according to article appearing in the Palmer Lake – Monument News in April, 1965.

“It would have cost millions to develop,” Higby was quoted then.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor and the U.S. entry into World War II, Higby was approached by the government, seeking permission to use his idea.

“Higby gave his permission but, heard no more from the government,” the 1965 article said.

His patent also outlined a method of guiding a plane both vertically or laterally by means of air blasts, which would be adjustable for both direction and intensity.

“His invention was aimed at being simple, economical and efficient. It provide for an engine ahead of the cockpit, as used in propeller planes, but the engine would propel a centrifugal fan, whose intake would project from the nose of the fuselage. The air would be discharged thru a pair of pipes, one of each extending rearwardly from each of the wings.”

A British jet flight-tested in 1964, used similar designs to those patented by Higby, according to Walt Shaw, a preliminary design engineer for Hamilton Standard Division of United Aircraft Corp., of Windsor Locks, Conn.

“… the British have tested an airplane making use of the same principles that are covered in the patent which you hold on the use of controllable jet blast for the purpose of maneuvering the air craft. Perhaps you were just too far ahead of the times,” read a 1965 letter to Higby from Shaw.

His considerable prowess as an inventor was extended to other endeavors. Higby also seemed to have a knack for politics. In addition to his service as Lt. Governor for Colorado from 1943 to 1947, he also managed stints in Colorado state house of representatives from 1933 to 1940, Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives from 1939 to 1940, and in the Colorado state senate from 1941 to 1943.

An obituary in the Palmer Lake – Monument News penned by Jean Evans upon his death in March of 1967 waxed poetic.

“As we walked with Mr. Higby daily we did not comprehend the full meaning of his greatness… He took kindly the counsel of years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. He nurtured the strength and spirit that shielded him in sudden misfortune. With all the sham, drudgery and broken dreams, he knew the world was beautiful. He will go down in history as part of our American way of life.”

Higby’s memory and legacy is carried on in the modern world. Mike Higby, a descendent contacted me a while back.

“William Eugene Higby was my great grandfather. I never knew him, I was born in 1969. William David Higby was my grandfather and his son William F. Higby my father. We used a simple version of his jet to heat branding irons on the ranch in Monument. I lived on the ranch in Monument until shortly after the death of my grandfather around 1984. We moved to the upper Elk river valley at the foot of Elk Mountain (the other side is called Sleeping Giant Mountain) near Steamboat Springs. My great-grandmother was from Craig, and I did know her.”

Eugene Higby, another great grandson of William Eugene Higby, contacted me in 2010. 
“My grandfather, James Eugene Higby, trained RAF pilots for the Battle of Britian in 1940-1944. He also test flew B-17's before they were shipped over to the European Theater. Following the war, W.E. Higby's son, flew turbo props, and later as the 1960's approached, flew 707's and later 747's nationally and internationally. One of the defining moments in the Higby jet engine legacy is W.E.'s son being the first airline captain to fly a 747-121 for Continental Airlines into Stapleton Airport in Denver. Thus closing the full circle of W.E.'s jet engine invention.”


Photo information:
1928 patent diagram for W.E. Higby’s jet engine and 1929 patent paperwork.

Preserving green in Greenland

Greenland eventually became one of the largest shipping points for livestock in the state

By Rob Carrigan,

Locally, you would be remiss in considering “green’ activities without including a healthy dose of the town of Greenland and the Greenland Ranch Open Space system. The system establishes a relatively untouched and contiguous stretch of ground all the way from Monument Hill to Larkspur.
The open space was patched together from a number of large parcels including the original townsite of Greenland and now encompasses roughly 21,000 acres on both sides of Interstate 25 that will always remain ‘green’ with abundant wildlife and working ranches because of conservation easements.
Basically, that leaves it looking much like it did when the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad arrived in 1871. Douglas County and Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), which generates funds from the Colorado Lottery, have shared the cost and ponied up nearly $20 million to pay for elements of the conservation effort.
“The name of Greenland was given to a magnificent stand of timber a few miles north of Palmer Lake,” according to a Sept. 13, 1973 account in the Douglas County News, by Mrs. John Marr, member of a local pioneer family.
“ A town soon sprang up there. This town of Greenland was the trading center for many of Douglas County’s earliest and greatest pioneers – among them were these names – Sam Johnston, Noe, Higby, Lamb, Allis, Riggs, Best Killin.”
The widely acclaimed author Helen Hunt Jackson is often tabbed as the naming party for Greenland -- or at least the first to write it down.
The town flourished.
An 1883 advertisement for J.P. Riggs store in Greenland reads as follows:
“I desire to invite the attention of the ranchmen of the Divide to my increased stock of Dry Goods, Hats, Caps, Boots & Shoes. Also a large and well-assorted stock of Staple and Fancy Groceries, a full line of duck goods. I have recently enlarged my stock and am prepared to supply the Divide trade with as good and cheap goods as can be obtained in the county.”
The nearby Greenland Ranch also became famous for its cattle. An 1888 advertisement tells some of the story.
“Greenland Breeding Farm. Colorado raised, purebred Shorthorn and Galloway. The Union Real Estate, live Stock and Investment Company have for sale, at Greenland, Douglas County, Colorado, (47 miles south of Denver, on the D & R.G and A.T. & S.F. Railroads,) a fine lot of young thoroughbreds, of the best English and Scottish strains. Good individuals and good pedigrees. Lyman of Mount Leonard, a pure Galloway bull, Vicecount Richmond, a pure Craickshank bull, Winsome Duke 4th, a pure Bates bull, head our heard. Come to see what we have. Visitors welcome, Correspondence solicited. Address, Wm. B. Berger, manager, Denver, Colo., or Isaac J. Noe, Supt., Greenland, Colo.”
Greenland eventually became one of the largest shipping points for livestock in the state, according to information provided by Penny Burdick of the Larkspur Historical Society, and the ranch, which included more than 15,000 acres is the longest continuously operating cattle ranching operation in Colorado. It was homesteaded and assembled between 1870 and 1875 and later purchased by the John Higby family in 1906.
I.J. Noe, the early superintendent mentioned in the previous advertisement, married Jennie Higby and founded nearby Eagle Mountain Ranch just west of the Greenland Ranch.
“Mr. Noe’s brand is the oldest in Colorado… “ according to Larkspur Historical Society. Descendent Ida May Noe still lives on the property on Noe Road.
The landmark red barn on the Greenland Ranch was built in 1922 to replace a larger one that was struck by lighting and burned to the ground (delaying train traffic for hours), according to the Larkspur Historical Society information. The “new” barn is 25 feet shorter than the original one which was built in the late 1870s.
In January of 1996, Milton Taylor who owned the majority of 96 lots of the Greenland townsite, sold them to Douglas County to be preserved as open space, according to a January 24, 1996 edition of the Douglas County News-Press.
“Its home. It’s where I grew up as a kid,” Taylor was quoted in the article.
Chuck Higby, who was born and raised on the Greenland Ranch, also recalled the town of Greenland in the same article.
“It was a horse-and-buggy town,” Higby said at the time and further noted that it had two grocery stores, a hotel, a post office, a one-room schoolhouse and a warehouse.
“But the residents of the town have changed very little over the years,” Higby said.
The Board of County Commissioners approved the purchase of the Greenland townsite in December of 1995 for approximately $160,000 and funded the acquisition with the open space, parks and trails sales and use tax which was approved by county voters in 1994, according to the News Press. That same year, the county spent more than $1 million to buy the 268-acre parcel of Prairie Canyon Ranch.
The county’s purchase of these lots, though it was one of its smallest open space purchases, was significant because of its history and key location. It allowed open space to grow into the huge collection of properties that now encompass the I-25 conservation corridor.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Granddad's place in Grand Junction

There was no door on the front or back. Old tires were strewn all through the wrecked structure. The ceiling was down in most places along with the roof in a lot of the rooms. The nice yard, plants and all the trees were missing. The carport was completely gone and it looked like the rest of the neighborhood went with it.
While attending a meeting last year in Grand Junction, I had the opportunity to run by the house my grandparents lived in after they retired from ranching. It has been at least 25 years since they lived there, and probably closer to 30 since I’d been in the area. Needless to say, I was disappointed.
My memory was of a neat, clean, well cared for, retirement community with many of the smaller homes nearly new. The exceptional lawns and landscaping stood out in my mind and were likely the result of a long growing season and plenty of irrigation water as the community was on the banks of the Colorado River.
But that was 30 years ago. Things change, I guess.
The experience brought to mind what becomes of my neighborhood or your neighborhood in 30 or 40 years and what we can do now to affect that.
Granddad had a very elaborate ditch irrigation system that allowed for an incredible mini-vineyard and peach trees as well as a lush clover-filled lawn, shady cottonwood trees and a vegetable garden. It was complex old technology with block panels and slots in the concrete ditches in which the panels required placement just so. But Granddad was “old school” and if anyone could make ditch run, it was he.
But he was not too keen on change and all the newfangled methods of water disbursement. He was not too supportive of development and he liked the fact that there was horse pasture across the road. He even liked it that the road dead-ended at the big canal and you barely could get two cars going different directions past each other on the lane out front. It kept the traffic down. Interestingly enough, there is still horse pasture across the road, which isn’t any wider. It does now go over the big canal into another ramshackle neighborhood.
He, as I said before, was reluctant to change much, and liked it that things didn’t. He lived in place that pretty much stood still. The old-fashion ways prevailed. The way of doing things remained the same.
It was nice way to live and nice, slow-moving place to visit as a kid. But without somebody like him that knew the old ways and how to make the ditch run, and no changes, and no modern conveniences and upgrades — it has suffered a sad decline. Maybe there is some lesson in that.

Dogs 'n' roses

Saturday, July 5, 2008

No respect for Ramona

County officials waged war against the vice in Ramona

 By Rob Carrigan,
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,” said 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.