Naming Places, Part 4

Rico_CourthouseA little spot in Dolores County, Colorado became very popular after silver was discovered there in 1879. Other prospectors rushed to the area hoping to make their own strike.
          A little village formed as more people arrived. They called it Carbon City, then Carbonville, then Lead City, then Dolores City. Finally, the residents held a meeting to pick a new name for their community, one they could all agree on. One man suggested calling it Rico, the Spanish word for “rich.” That was what all the people hoped to become so that became the name of their town.

For more information about place names in Colorado, see Colorado Place Names by George R. Eichler (1977) or Colorado Place Names by William Bright (1993).

Published in: on March 23, 2015 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Platform Peculiarity

grasshopper on leafOn August 25, 1876, the Republican Party of the brand new State of Colorado met to choose their candidates for office. They also adopted an eleven point campaign platform. Most of the points stated what was wrong with the Democratic Party’s positions. But, item #9 was unique. It was about grasshoppers!

“9. The General Government should by some systemic plan study and determine as nearly as possible the origin and peculiarities of the grasshopper plague which periodically ravages large portions of the western half of the Union, and in good time expend its aid to the people in guarding against and preventing such wholesale losses to the agricultural population as they now suffer.” (Reported by The New York Times, August 27, 1876)

LocustBut, these were not ordinary grasshoppers. They were Rocky Mountain locust (Melanoplus spretus). These hungry critters ranged through the western United States until the end of the 19th century. They are now extinct. Scientists believe that westward settlement killed the locust. Plowing and irrigation destroyed the egg cases that the locust buried in the ground.

Colorado Summer Attractions 1917, Part 2

Land of Unrivaled Scenery

The Union Pacific’s 1917 promotional booklet Colorado for the Tourist described the state in elegant and compelling language designed to lure travelers—for the benefit of both the railroad and the state.

“Of all the superb playgrounds of the peerless West none posses more charm or greater variety than those of Colorado. The vigor-restoring climate is a factor when those on vacation bent are considering where to go. No corner of the globe offers more attractions than this domain of the Rocky Mountains, where the Crest of the Continents attains its highest and most rugged altitudes, and the resort places and camping grounds accommodate every purse, whim or desire. Fishing and hunting in season are beyond compare. This book is a picture story of these exceptional summering places and of the most accessible of all out National Parks – Rocky Mountain National Park. Denver, the gateway to this wonderland, is less than thirty hours from Chicago via Union Pacific.”
          “Whatever else Colorado may be—whether leader among precious metal producing states or producer of richest crops of fruit and grain—it will also always be the mecca of the heat-oppressed and scenery-loving American tourist.”
          “Colorado is learning, like Switzerland, to capitalize its marvelous scenery. Its citizens realize that with all its native gold, the Centennial State, with its wealth of climate, health and picturesque settings, is, after all, first and foremost, the logical playground of the Continent.”
           “Colorado has many advantages over Switzerland. Altitudes that are barely accessible in the European republic are reached with greatest ease in Colorado. Whereas, in the Alps it is almost as much as one’s life is worth to ascend to 10,000 feet, in Colorado the traveler finds two of the greatest mining camps in the world at that approximate height—Leadville being slightly higher and Cripple Creek a trifle lower. Each is a modern city and their combined production of metals has added more than $700,000,000 to the wealth of the world.”
         “The snowy peaks, silvery mountain streams and shimmering lakes, set like jewels in the mountain sides, together with other attendant charms of Colorado, rank with those of any high altitude territory in the world. Added to these is an advanced degree of civilization, with comforts and conveniences of living and travel that are unexcelled.”

Illustrations and quoted text from a free promotional booklet “Colorado for the Tourist,” produced by the Union Pacific Railroad for the summer tourist season of 1917.

Interview with Ouray, Part 5

New-York Tribune (New York, N.Y.) October 08, 1874, page 4


Tower Mountain, opposite Howardsville, Bakers Park. Upon its nearby perpendicular fact of 3,000 feet are exposed a number of quartz veins, traversing its whole length. The one cutting down diagonally from the left is the Mammoth lode. Most of the others are claimed as mineral-bearing veins. San Juan County, Colorado. 1874.

For the last few years the [Ute] nation had probably been decreased in numbers, especially by the ravages of small-pox, which was purposely communicated to them, it is said, by some traders with whom the Utes were unwilling to trade. Some Indians having taken the disease from the infected clothing sold them, others were advised to be vaccinated, but were instead inoculated with the disease…so the terrible story goes, by unprincipled quacks in the towns south of them. The epidemic raged with fearful power and hundreds of families were exterminated…
          For a number of years they have been supposed to live upon the reservation, which embraces some 14,000,000 acres in South-Western Colorado, and is the largest Indian reservation in the country. But the fact is that they are in its valley only in the Winter, roaming during the Summer all over the Territory, particularly in the dark country and west of Denver, where they hunt buffalo. From about the 1st of August until it is time for them to retire to their Winter quarters in the Uncompahgre Valley, they keep near their respective agencies and live on the rations which are dealt out to them by the Government.

This article was written by an unidentified member of the Hayden Survey team based on his August 27, 1874 interview with Ouray.

Photo by William Henry Jackson, with his notes, courtesy the U.S. Geological Survey Photographic Library.

Published in: on April 9, 2012 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Surveying the American West

In 1867 Congress authorized the first survey of the western territories of the United States. The purpose was to study the geology and natural resources of this vast area.

The Liberty Cap, Pleasant Park, Douglas County, Colorado. 1874.

Four great surveys were led by: Clarence King, graduate of Yale’s Sheffield Scientific School; Ferdinand V. Hayden, M.D., a medical doctor who had been exploring the Great Plains since 1853; John Wesley Powell, Professor of Geology at Illinois State Normal University; and Lieutenant George Wheeler, an Army Engineer. In addition to trained surveyors and geologists, these teams included artists and photographers who captured images of the areas being mapped and writers who described not only the landscape but the experiences of the team.

Photo by William Henry Jackson from the 1874 Hayden Survey.

Roller Skates for Christmas

What did families do for fun during bitter cold winters in 1880s Leadville, Colorado?
          Playing cards and board games at home was popular. There was also indoor roller skating at City Hall.
          An advertisement in the Leadville Daily Herald,  December 23, 1880, reminded everyone that City Hall was open Monday through Saturday for roller skating. Admission was 25 cents. Renting a pair of skates cost 25 cents in the afternoon and 50 cents in the evening.

For more roller skating history and great illustrations, visit Roller Skates in the House: America’s Scandalous Pastime

Published in: on December 26, 2011 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Indian Schools in Colorado

The Annual Report of the U.S. Department of Interior for the fiscal year 1904/1905 lists three government supported Indian Schools in Colorado. All three were boarding schools. The Grand Junction and Fort Lewis schools were in session 12 months of the year; the Southern Ute school operated 8 months of the year.
          In this mid 1890s photo from the collection of Fort Lewis College Center for Southwest Studies, girls at the Fort Lewis Indian Boarding School pose with a matron.

                                      Enrollment      Cost to Gov’t
Grand Junction            216                $33,119.02
Fort Lewis                      198                $31,714.10
Southern Ute                  62                 $ 8,977.09

          The Grand Junction Indian School operated from 1886-1911 and the Fort Lewis Indian School from 1892-1910 according to the Colorado State Archives. The 1900 census reported the majority of students at the Grand Junction school came from Arizona and New Mexico with a few from Utah, Nevada, and Nebraska. The Fort Lewis school hosted students from 21 states and 3 foreign countries (England, Ireland and Wales) in 1900.
          A school was established on the Southern Ute Reservation in 1886 but suffered from low attendance. In 1920 the school closed and Southern Ute children enrolled in public schools, according to the Ute Indians of Colorado in the Twentieth Century by Richard Keith Young.

Published in: on February 7, 2011 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Taking the Census: Colorado Growth

The Census Bulletin, Issue 127, produced by the United States Census Office, October 21, 1891, offered analysis of Colorado’s growth from the 1880 to the 1890 census.
          The population of Colorado more than doubled in the ten years between census counts. From 194,327 people in 1880, the state grew 112% to 412,198 residents by 1890.
          In 1880, Denver was the largest city with 35,629 residents; Leadville was second with 14,820 people. By 1890, Denver had grown 199.5% to 106,713.  Pueblo had become the second largest town with 24,558, an increase of 663.38%. By contrast, Leadville’s population had dropped to 10,384 and Colorado Springs had slipped into third place with 11,140 residents.
          Only 29 towns had populations greater than 1,000 people in 1890. One new community of interest was established after the 1880 census. The mining town of Chipeta in Pitkin County had 266 residents by 1890.

Published in: on May 3, 2010 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Immigrant Gold Seekers

An 1862 report on the Eighth Census included data on occupations of passengers arriving in the United States between 1820 and 1860. A total of 39,087 miners arrived in that 40 year period. The vast majority (96% or 37,523) arrived in the 1850s. No doubt many were bound for the gold fields. Source: The Preliminary Report of the Eighth Census, Census Office, Department of Interior, Washington, May 20, 1862, page 17

Published in: on July 27, 2009 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Researching Native American Families

“Our way of doing genealogy does not always fit the Indian way. They may take into their home an orphan, the homeless of any age, a widow or other stray and call them “brother, sister, aunt” etc… and there may be no blood relationship at all. It was also an accepted practice to use the mother’s family name and she could be listed as head of household. An Indian name generally does not tell you if the person is male or female.”

A research tip from Mary Ann Hetrick’s Native Genealogy Webring

Published in: on May 9, 2009 at 4:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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