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WESTERN STATE COLLEGE OF COLORADO


GUNNISON


MEMORIES NORTH SAVING: THE STORY OF ASHCROFT, COLORADO


A thesis submitted· in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree

of


Master of Arts


CHARLENE KAY KNOLL


December 21, 1977


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This thesis for the M.A. degree


by


Charlene Kay Knoll


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has been approved for the Social Studies Division

by



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ACKNO\•JLEDGMENTS


·n,e search for Memories WoTth Saving could not be accomplished by


only one person. It is impossible to name every person who gave encourage- ment and aid, but those unamed many are not forgotten. I i,ould like to acknoi;ledge the generous cooperation of the staffs of the DenveT Public Library, Western History Department, the Colorado State Historical So iety, the Arthur Lake Library, Colorado School of Mines, the Pitkin County Pub­ lic Library, the Garfield County Public Library and the Colorado Bureau

of Mines.


To Theodore S. Ryan and Stuart Mace who refused to allow Ashcroft to fade into oblivion, I owe a special thank you. Without their unceasing efforts there would have been few memories to preserve. Ramona Markalunas, director of the Aspen Historical Society, al so deserves a thank you foT working in Ashcroft's behalf.

My thanks to Raymond C. Lantz 1vho provided copies of the many photo­


graphs I obtained. To James Andre and his son Timothy whose skill as pilots of a single-engined Cessna 182 allowed me a 11b i r d 1 s eye view!! of the Ashcroft area, a trembling thank you. For the many arduous houTS of typing and many generous \ ·ords of encouTagernent, -lary Zimmerer is owed

a very special thank you.


meet the deadline.

My thanks also to Ruth Ann Smith 1vho helped


I owe a special debt of gTatitude to my husband Alvin for his faith


ful diligence and moTal support. The houTs he spent exploring the Ashcroft area with me aTe not forgotten. Without him I would not have had the courage to begin.

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INTRODUCTION CHAPTER I. CHAPTER II. CHAPTER III.

CHAPTER IV. CHAPTER V.

CHAPTER VI.


CPAPTER VI I .

TABLE OF CONTENTS


THE NEVER ENDING SEARCH THE LUCK OF THE DRAW BOOMING, BANGING, BLASTING

AND GOD MADE MINES TO PUT THE DEVIL IN MOUNTAIN SHEEP NEED NOT APPLY

FADING EMBERS


OH lvHl'RE, OH l'/HERE, WAS THE RAILROAD?


1


5


23


36


49


73


96


115


CHAPTER

VIII.

}t;EANDERING THROUGH

THE

VALLEY

141

CHAPTER

IX.

A NEW BEGINNING



179

EPILOGUE





212


BIBLIOGRAPHY



219

APPENDICES




A. PLAT OF ASHCROFT

224


B. MINES

225


C. EUSJNESS LISTINGS

254


u". J.M. LEJ\HY'S POEMS

264


E. MULE SKINNER'S DELIGHT

271


F. MAPS

272


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INTRODUCTION


Each mining area within the state of Colorado not only has a history similar to all other mining areas within the state, but also one unique unto itself. It should be remembered that each camp no matter how suc­ cessful, no matter what its size, no matter how fleeting or prolonged its existence, contributed a unique "something" to the history of the state. The task of the researcher is to find that unique "something. 11

One mining community which began with great promise in 1879 was Ashcroft, located in the remote Elk Mountains, fourteen miles up Castle Creek from the equally infant camp of Aspen. Ashcroft, located at an elevation of 9,498 feet is surrounded by majestic beauty. No major moun­ tain in the area--McArthur Mountain (12,139), Gold Hill (12,361), Ashcroft Mountain (12,381), Taylor Pea.k (13,435),. Star Peak (13,521), Pearl Moun­ tain (13,362), Castle Peak (14,265),- Conundrum Peak (14,022), Cathedral

Peak (13,943), !fayden Peak (13,561)--.is under .12,000 feet. An ever present problem facing early day miners was accessibility to supply points and smelters. Eventually, three routes partially solved this problem--Inde­ pendence Pass (12,095) from Leadville and the east through Aspen; Taylor Pass (11,928 feet) from the Gunnison country and the southeast; and Pearl Pass (-12, 705 feet) from the Gunnison country and the south. Numerous

feeder streams--Cooper Creek from the south; Pine Creek, Devaney Creek, Sandy Creek, Sawyer Creek and Conundrwn Creek from the southwest; and Cooper Fork, Express Creek, Waterfall Gulch, Fall Creek and Queens Gulch from the southeast--cut through steep canyons to enter Castle Creek nnrning


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the length of the long, narrow valley.


The Spanish in their journeys were south and west of the Castle Creek Valley. In 1776 the Franciscan Fathers, Francisco Atmrnsio Dominquez and Silvestre Velez de Escalante, led an expedition from Santc Fe, New Mexico

to establish an overland route between this stronghold on the fringe of the declining Spanish Empire and Monterey, California, the main Spanish pres dio and cultural center of the Paci fie Coast. This route was to he estab­ lished for economic, political, defensive and military reasons. Although failing to achieve their ultimate goal, Dominquez and Escalante gathered valuable geographic infornation about lands above and ivest of the northern border of New Spain; these lands were first recorded in the mappings of Captain Don Bernardo Miera y Pacheco, the cxped i tion' s cartogTapher. In their search for a suitable route Dominquez and Escalante crossed the upper waters of Plateau Creek, close to the fringes of the Elk Hountains. A variation of the old Spanish Trail to California established forty years after the Dominquez-Escalante expedition went through the San Luis Valley over Cochetopa Pass, along the Gunnison River and westward to Utah.

The Rocky Mountains with its many streams was prime territory for beaver "gold" during the 1820's and 1830's and the mountain men extensively roamed the region in search of the beaver. Although there is no documented evidence to prove the mountain men were in the Castle Creek Valley during this time, it is probable that the search for beaver "gold" touched the Valley with its many streams. The ruggedness and isolation of the valley would not have stopped the ,nountain men of the 1820's and 1830's just ,as it would not stop the prospectors of the 1870's and 1880's. Although the abundance of heaver in the valley in the 1820 1 s and 1830's ls unknown, bea­ ver were there. It is known that heaver were at the confluence of Pine


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crc k and Castle Creek during the 1870's and 1880's and that beaver are in


the same location now.


Until the arrival of the white men who searched for elusive mineral ore, the environment of the valley was relatively undisturbed. Mountain men had been in the Castle Creek Valley forty or fifty years earlier, but they lived a quiet existence and <lid not disturb the land. Al though the valley was within the land of the Utes and would remain within their do­ main until the spring of 1880, the Utes, too, lived without disturbance

to the land. An occasional hunting party passed through the valley, but due to the extreme ruggedness of the surrounding area, Castle Creek Valley was neither a major hunting area nor a major path to the hot springs of the Roaring Fork Valley. Likewise, the altitude of the valley stopped any win­ ter occupation. 'TI1e extreme ruggedness and altitude of the valley also presented difficulties for the white men who searched for rnineral--di.ffi­ culties which were never completely overcome.

Ashcroft never reached the magnitude of ore production which it was believed the town would Teach. SilveT was theTe, along with zinc, gold, copper ,and lead, but only the Montezuma and Tam O'Shanter mines, owned at one time by Horace Tabor, were large enough to be profitable for any length of time. Others might have beeit profitable if the railroad, long promised and planned, had ever reached Ashcroft. In its absence, expenses proved too great for the majority of miners to ship their ores to Crested Butte

or Aspen for reduction.


Ashcroft, then, is one of many mining c;imps in Colorado that began With great promise but ended quickly as a ghost t01m. As a thriving min­ ing camp, Ashcroft' s life was short--a mere span of three years--and yet its life continued well after the turn of the century, The post office of

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the comrnuni_ty 1,,1as not officially closed until November 30, 1912. Ashcroft was the first community in the Pitk.in County region to achieve any signifi­ cance, surpassing Aspen 1n mineral production if only for a short while.

Not only was the first school in Pitkin County established 111 Ashcroft, but


the community could also boast of its own poet laureate.


Ashcroft is no longer an inhabitctl town, but its history continues. In June, 1975, the townsite of Ashcroft was designated as a national his­ toric site to be preserved for future generations. At various times Ash­ croft has been a movie location, a television production location, and the location of the Tenth "lountain Division prior to the completion of Camp Hale. Had World War II not intervened, Ashcroft probably i,ould have been

the first major ski area in Colorado. Until thTce years ago, a winter visi­ tor could enjoy the sight of a full dogsled team mushing through the trees. Now a winter visitor canenjoy the exhilaration of cross-country skiing.

Ashcroft has indeed contributed and; more important, will continue to


contribute its unique "something" to the history of Colorado. Ashcroft was a great promise which ended in broken dreams, but Ashcroft. i·s a great pro­ mise 'of new and different dreams.



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CIIAPTER T


Tl-IE NEVER ENDING SEARCH


The quiet stillness of the Castle Creek valley high in the Rocky Mountains was occasionally broken by the sounds of a beaver repairing his dam and his lodge for the coming winter. Winters in the valley were cold; snow cover was many feet deep. His lodge must be snug. His food must be gathered. It mattered not that the location of his lodge and his valley hadno name.

If the beaver had been interested in years instead of seasons, 1859 would have appeared on his calendar. Other valleys in the Rocky Mountains were not as peaceful as his--whi te men were frantically searching for elu­ sive mineral. In twenty years that search would bring the white men to

the beaver's peaceful valley. For now, he was safe.

With the intrusion of the white men, the valley appToxirnately fifteen miles in length would be named the Castle Creek Valley. In the spring and

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the sununer, as one Cousin Jackl would say, 11 It 1 s a bloody flower garden . 112 With its many open spots filled with lucious gTeen gTass, the valley was an ideal location for anemones, larkspur, Indian paintbrush_, daisies and

columbines. In addition, wild roses frinp,ed the creek banks. The beaver,

fo .

r its part, was more interested in the groves of trees which covered the


1 11Cous i n Jack' 1 was the nickname for a CoTnish miner from Cornwall,

England .

2

Carroll 1-1. Coberly, "Ashcroft," The Colorado Hagazine, XXXVII (April, 1960), p. 84.


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hillsldes. Although there were Douglas fir, Alpine fir, Englemann spruce,


some Foxtail pine, and now and tl1cn a Blue or Si.Iver spruce, the most im­


portant vegetation to the beaver for nutritive as we1l as constTuct.i.on pur­


poses was the aspen \,1 h i ch filled the spaces between all the other trees.


The lodge the industrious beaver was repairing was situated at the confluence of two streams, for the present, unnamed. In later years they i;ould each be named; the one from the west, Pine Creek; the one from the

south, Castle Creek. To the beaver, names did not matter. The repairing of his lodge and the storing of food did.

Suddenly the beavor stopped his work and listened. Something was disturbing the peace of the valley. Looking up he sai, the family of os­ preys who shared his valley take flight. As shadows of the ospreys fell across the valley floor, the small 11poc ke t gophers" that also shared the valley scurried to their dens in fright. Untouched by the danger and yet aware of the activity below was the Bald Eagle high in his lofty crag.

Something alien was here. The beaver slipped quietly into the stream to the safety of his lodge to wait and to wonder.

Neither the beaver, the ospreys, nor the "pocket gophers" had any­ thing to fear for the alien element was not looking for them. A small party of Ute Indians knmvn as the Ni.int' z or 11 t h e People" in their own lan­ guage i;as in the valley hunting for the mule deer and the elk or Wapiti.

They 1'ere returning to their winter lodges after spending time at the "healing h1at er s , 11 a group of natural hot springs kno,,:n as Ymnpah situated at the junction of the Bunkara or Thunder River (later to be named the Roaring Fork River) and the Grand River. The isolated valley of their Shining Mountains was good to them; the deer and the elk \I/ere nwnerous

Soon the Nifot' z left the valley assured of food and clothing for the coming


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winter. The beaver c.ou.ld cont ·i nue h i.s h1:i nter prcparat ions undisturbed.


The beaver envied the ospreys and the eagle for their ability of flight. He knew his valley and the surrounding area was beautiful and yet he had never seen it as the others had. The dominate feature of the area was the extremely rugged Elk Mountain range, a range of many high peaks, natural basins, and lakes. Over the ridge to the south 1vas open country; over the ridge to the north could be seen large valleys and rivers. To the northeast and east were lo1ver timbered mountains leading to another rugged range, the Sawatch, part of the backbone of the continent. Far to the

1vest could be seen a large, massive tableland; a rugged, arid, broken land with massive cliffs was far to the northwest. The valley itself was long and narrow; numerous feeder streams cut through steep canyons to enter the main creek running the length of the valley. As far as the eye could see the view was one of rugged, isolated, unspoiled nature.

Ruggedness and isolation would not protect the unspoiled nature of the valley forever. '11le while men's unrelenting search for mineral, al­ ready occurring in other valleys equally as rugged and isolated as the Castle Creek Valley, would also disturb this peaceful setting. In twenty years the mining community of Ashcroft would add its name to the annals of Colorado mining history.

The unrelenting search for mineral started with the first discovery of gold in the future state of Colorado and was an accidental by-product of the California gold rush of 1849. On June 21, 1850, two or three dol­ lars' worth of gold wa found in the general vicinity of future Denver at

Ralston Creek.3 Further investigation of Colorado's mineral possibilities


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3Wi ll i arn S. Greever, The Bonanza West: The Story of the Western

ning Rushes, 1848-1900 (Norman: llniversity of Oklahoma Press, 1963),

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p. 157.


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Aerial view of the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness area looking northwest from the Castle Creek Valley, 1976

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Aerial view of Upper Castle Creek Valley showing Pearl Basin with Pearl Mountain in the upper left hand corner, 1976.

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Aerial view of Star Basin south of Ashcroft with Star Peak in the upper right hand corner, 1976.


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Ashcroft in 1942 (Courtesy of Ted Ryan and the Ashcroft Detach.TJ1ent)



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Aerial view of Lower Castle Creek Valley with Richmond Hill, right center, 1976

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would not occur u11til 1858. ·n1e initi.al mi11ing excitcment•in Colora<lo, begun by the rediscovery of gold in 1858 and later enhanced by the dis­ covery of silver in 1864, ivould last intermittently until the turn of the century.

The rush of 1859 might have been an utter failure had it not been


for three major discoveries, each approximately forty miles from Denver. The first was attributed to George .Jackson who found good placer diggings in the area now called Idaho Springs. The second discovery, the first lode of any importance in Colorado, was made by .John H. Gregory at future Black Hawk. The third discovery on Gold Run, near Gold Hill in Boulder

County, not nearly se productive as the other two regions would later prove


to be, initially helped to arouse enthusiasm for the faltering gold rush. The lure of rich TC1'ards for all \·Jho cared to come attracted thou­

sands to ColoTado in the spring of 1859. Throughout the summer and the

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image fall of 1859, the lure tarnished for the inexperienced and the faint heart­ ed; the disillusioned left theregion crying "Pike's Peak Hoax." Many an


early fortune seeker though did not give up.· With optimism and intense determination these fortune seekers prospected successfully, not only in the areas of the three sensational discoveries, but also in the South Park area approximately ninety miles southwest of Denver. If a directory of mining communities had been available at the close of 1859, the listing would have included the mining :communities of Fairplay, Alma, !ontgomery,

Buckskin Joe, Mos qui to, Hami1 ton, Jefferson, Negro Gulch, French Gulch and Breckenridge of the South Park region; as well as the c.ommunities of Black Hawk, Idaho Springs, Gold Hill, Central City and Nevadaville of the Little Kingdom of Gilpin.

Colorado had to become a fluid, transitory mining frontier. Estab-

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}ished regions imulcl not and could not absorb all of the hopeful mineral seekers. The proven success of one district contributed to the transitory nature of the frontier. It was belfeved by those who came too late to an established area that their potential bonanza was "over the next hil 1." Consequently expansion continued in leap frog fashion, but not witho11t direction. It soon became apparent that almost all of the deposits oc­ curred along what came to be known as the "mineral belt," a fifty·mile­ wide zone extending from present day Boulder County in the northeast to the present day San Juan County in the southwest--a distance of some 216 miles. All told, some 430 metal mining districts were established as legal entities in the state of Colorado although only a few of the dis­ tricts ever became really significant producers.

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California Gulch, near present day Leadville, became important in 1860 as the site of the richest gold placer ever found in Colorado. The rush was short but sweet; approximately $5,000,000 was produced in two

ycar s . 4 Gold prospecting in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colo­

rado in 1860 ended in failure, although false rumors of fabulous discover­ ies sent others into the region in 1861.

At first miners in Colorado sought only gold; gradually they came to realize that they should also look for silver. The silver craze began in 1864 with the discovery of the fiTst paying silveT lode neaT Georgetown approximately sixty miles west of Denver and ended on a major level in 1893 following discoveries in the Creede and Cripple Creek districts andthe great silver panic of that year. By the 1870's and the 1880's, the belief


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G 4J ohn and Halka Chronic, Prairie, Peak and Plateau: A Guide to the

P- s2y:--fColorado (Denver: Colorado Geological Survey Bulletin 32, 1972),


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that potential bonanzas \-Jere 11 ovc r the next h i l l 11 proved true. In leap frog fashion rich strikes occurred in such places as Caribou in Boulder County, Silverton and Ouray in the San Juan Mountains, Leadville in the Sawatch and Nosquito ranges, Tincup and Pitkin in the Gunnison country and Ashcroft and Aspen in the Elk Mountains.

In the early 1870's, rich strikes were not the only stimulus to the


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development of the mineral weal th of Colorado. Investors had long been clamoring for careful appraisals of the potential mineral weal th. \Vi th­

out some scientific knowledge and without good maps proper mineral devel­ opment was too wasteful and too costly.

To fulfill this need, Pcrdinand Vandeveer Hayden, leader of the United States Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories under the aus­ pices of the Department of the Interior, began exploration of Colorado in 1873. For the next three years, his purpose was to map the topography and the geology of Colorado, as well as study its natural history. For so

vast an undertaking the territory west of the Front Range was divided into logical study sections; each section was then extensively mapped and photo­ graphed.· Reports were quickly published in order that others might know what a specific area contained. In 1879 the state legislature of Colorado passed a resolution expressing their gratitude to Dr. Hayden and his assis­ t!l-nts for their collection of reports, views and maps which were helping to

develop the mining and agricultural interests of Colorado. 5

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Rich strikes and geological surveys may have provided a boost to the mining industry in the 1870' s, but one extremely complex proqlem remained--

C .

olorado' s Indians. The Utes had always claimed al 1 of the mountainous


U . SR1· chard A. Bartlett Great Surveys of

the American West (Norman:

n1vers1· ty of Oklahoma Press, 1962), p. 120.


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regions of ColornJo as their domain. l 'ith the encroachment of the h·hite


men into the Shining Mountains a series of tTcaties were drawn up and


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signed--each worse than the last fTom the stan<lpoint of the Nunt'z.


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In 1863 the lltes ceded the San luis Va 1 ley to the white men. In re­ turn, they were given "in perpetuity" al 1 land \vest of the Continentnl Divide. 11Per pe t u i t y 11 lasted five years. By 1868 white men in their re­ lentless search for mineral had breached the Continental Divide, return­ ing to Denver with stories of rich placers, gl ittcring veins, and rubies as big as marbles. The location of this fabulous wealth was the forbidden reservation of the lltes; something had to be done.

A new treaty, the treaty of 1868, was forthcoming, again to the de­ triment of the Utes. 1 e vague boundaries of the treaty of 1863 were tightened. This time an actual survey was made to establish the bounda,-,1 ries as all land west of the 107th meTid-ian and all land south of a line fifteen miles due north of the fortieth parallel--an area encompassing approximately one-third of the total area of Colorado. When the imagi- nary lines i;ere drawn, the lltes discovered that their best hunting coun­ try--the high peaks near the Divide--was now part of the white man's land.

The Utes were assured that the "Great White Father" would provide for them.


8nd eighteen were required to attend school; the 11G-re a t White Fa t h er 11 would

Provide a teacher for every thirty students.


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strnction f-rom the F:ir1ncr. image


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individ11:11 over eighteen,


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purposes. image


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off.idal reports as to the cnndit_i_on and \;';_rnts of the Utcs. i\n additic,nal thirtv thousand dol l.:1rs a year, the ::1ppropriat:ion of which w:i.s detcnn-lned by the Sec-retnry of the lnterior, \•:as tu prov idc beef, mutton_, h1he :1t . flour, herins c.1nd pot.c1tocs unti.1 the Incli.ans \•,'t:re C<ipcib]e of susL1ining

themselves.


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quired to rcd1;ibu.rse the .injured person. lnclian v:iolntors l'.'nuld likch''ise be tried according to United States lah'. Jf the tribe refused to subrnit the vioL1tor to the proper authorities_, the ctm1ual annuities would be re- ducccl by an amount ncccss;i:ry to J'e·imburse the ·i11j11red person. Any t:irne after. 1878 the Uni.tcd Stc1tcs gover-n;:-,ent, at its option, could \•Jithdr::i\\' the farmcrsj bl;vksm.i ths, c;irpt:ntcrs :-1nd mil lt-rs, b11t hould cont.i nue to pciy ten thousand dollars per ;inirnm to c•J11cc1t.c the Utes. The United States govern- ln(\llt h'Ould continue to retain the pr-ivllege of right of way for all roads, highivnys and .ra.i l roc1ds throu_:c.:h the rc ;vrvat inn as authorized by law. 6

The Bl!reau of fncl-L1n 1\ff:.1irs f(J1ind it difficult to cle,-il w·ith the


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spnkc:_,m:in image


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tr.ibal law. image


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Hhitc man, he i.·;;is only p 11't Ute---his Lither wcis a Jicari l la A_p,1chc. The white man had spokcn--like ·it or not, C1\icf Ourn.y h'Ould speak for all.

In J868 Oni':iy fJl'utz. '.oted the ..celinquishmcnt of the hunting country and refused to r,1tify the- _;,_ffvcy csttiblishing rc:_;ervation bounclaT.ics. It

made no diffcrc11cc; , ettlcrs '::en_,, nlccc1dy cdgi_ng over the -ccservat:Lon l·i.nc. The federal t;,(H-'cnF1cnt prcwii :c-d to rCJTiOVe the :::quattcr,s; instead the Utes h'cre forced to re1-inqnish the area illegally occ.llpied by the i.vhites.

The San .Juan country h'ith its vast mincrrtl wealth h'as officially ceded to the h1hi t cs i.n 18"/3 h'ith the signi_ng of the Brunot Treaty. The Utcs \,'ere permitted to hunt tn the San Juan country as long as the game

lnstC'd and the Jndian.s h'Urc- at pcat_c 1-,-'jth the \'.1 h .it c people. Tt\enty five


thousand dollar'.-: per ;innurn h·as to be held i.11 pcrpctt1 1l trust for the Lites to be dispersed nr -i_n\'CStPd :it the ,_1i.scretion of the President 11 f or the

:

use and benefit of the Ute Ind.ians ;,·1nu:·11 ly f cn, c ver . 1 A third agency \\'as


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to be establ Lshcd for the \\'ccminuche, i'-luachc and Capote b,1nds at some suit- able lJOint on the S( '<'the.rn pcirt of the Ute Rcsc1·v:1.tion. The provi:sinns of


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'lllishcd land.


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persons were to (:nter and/or rcsi.dc' on t.hc re:;cn'ttti_on.


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Oura,y 11ea(!-·c1' 1·1ct·

ol·

tn c

LI tc .v;:-.il 1.1>:1, ;,;;-is set ,it one t l1ousanc1 'uol l

:1rs per


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i I i]lX :1:-: !11·, j'(; image


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Evc::n ns pnn'isiuns of thr: t i·c :01t i cs of l.S(i8 ;md !S'/3 vrov·iding ror



comp I ;11' n \ :-·>

the Indi:inS,


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,,,.-,t-.,-,.l.-. ,,,, ,,',",-J,-"'·,11',· •, '1,.•,t· [ l,l('.'(..'. ',','1',1'. ·,1,.•i,,..".·, I,,,·,·.·.>,'(.' t·.,11.·1 ,,·,·,1· !',·,,,,,.·, ',-:.1'1.J ,·.1·.·,·.ll;'"

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Mountains \\'ere .filled w.ith fvrt·ile, rn·ineral .rich J,1nd 1·:h:ich the '>'-'hitc mc n bcl:icved should be and c.ould be put to use ·if only the lltcs could be re- moved.

Tn 1879 tronblc ,it lhe :·-:hitc· R.ivcr !ndj;1n i\g,,n, y providc,d the excuse


for the rcmovc1l of the lltcs frcn;i 1·hc SLJte. image


northern Utes, tired of !\gent ::, ch :1· 1 s ;-ittcn1pts to dc-:-;t ;'lJ)' their nnrn,-:1dic


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children. t!ajor Thoma.s T. Thor,·1t1ur- :,h t1nd a contingent of sold-i...;rs f1·om Fort Steele, h)yorning 1,1 e r c ;:nnbw-:;hed a mile ·inside the Reservation in the

itilk Creek Valley on t]1at saine day. Thornburgh \\'8S on his 1,:ay to the agency at the rcq11est of t,leeker to ;:ir1-est t··1·oubleuc1ke1-s ;1nd p:.·otcct the employees of tl1e 1gc11cy. image

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With his troops, Thornburgh up:;ct the precarious pec,ce b v u ,- , 0 c n the h"hite men and the northern Utcs. image


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Territory.


burgh, te,1

,".',.11·1 ·, 0- t 0,._.l ] .,,,·.. •,'ll

:_ino'

a ,,,,-;1gun1:1 L.:, \- ,r .h(_:re

i, 1']] s..'L\ '111 1·}1,1'

;t.l':,1l11_1::-·-;'11 . Since


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image l, pp. L,1,52.



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the image (_' i 1


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prqKired:


l\'llERFAS, The cit:i·::cns 11

to .listen to c.he rc,_:it;1l or'

T.c:·1dvi 11 <: have :;i;,;seniblcd this evening

the fo1il ;:n11'clvr con,rnitted on one of

the lcad.ing cit i c-r;s of 1-_hc

' \u0 c-,ncv,- ·_,

nnd


Wll[REAS, These: Utcs occupy the f·in '.St :rnd -r_i.chcst portion of Co.lo-r :do, and uttCi.'lY ccfnsc to cult i\•-1tc the soi .l or al l o h1 others to do so,


Hl.'.S[)LVED, ·r11;.-1t tl1e \-::101e ::--o ca11ecl Ut.e Fc:--;ccv;1tion is not t·.'().i..'th the life of their bc.•;t fi·icnd) '.-:hnrn tlir=::y so foully ,·:1:_;:--;:_1crcd on the th'Cnty··ninth of cptcubc-r.


RESOLVED, That he condc-1-:n the fnd.inn policy \..Yf the Un'itcd St;:1tes Gove1·nmcnt in 1.l.lcll,'.i-:1g our c·it i zcn5 to be :nut·dered by the l.ndi.an fiends.


RESOLVED, That the Ute Indians must and shall be removed outside the border of our St:1tc} or that it h'i11 be our duty to rnc1ke them peaceable Tndir:ns.


!11:SOLVED, That 1-:c h, :1.rt.i.ly ,pnl.aud ti1c rcso1nt inn :ind L'Our:1ge of

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;nss .fo::;cphlnc :-.ict,ker _in t,-,1J·ing the :.;tory of -i-hc :·1ntr:1::;cs :nH1 suf­ Fciri gs \..thltircd hy hecself, her C:,rni ly :iJhi ;i'.-;::;cwi;itcs, ;tnd \-:c com­ mend her to t·he f1 ,c:·:._l:;]i;p ·:nd ,_·ourlc·:;i,::::; of thu: v \·:ho {1esii·e to knoh' the true i1n·::1rd1iC:35 ·tnd \,' int of the pr·incip 1-1 of the noble red

rnan.


A final treaty signed in 0LT1·ch, lSSO rnde t:hi.s desire Co:r b:1nishrnent of

t he Lites a reality. TlH: Ute :"Jat.i.011 ceded to the Un·l ted States i;ove1 nrncnt

a11 t·c1T·1tory on the-Lr l (:sc'n1atio11 i.n CuJontdo except for two rct;Jons.

One ·

region, designated as La PJ.ata River, Colorado h'as to he thC' fi1ture

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liililison and Crand Rive.rs h'<!S to he the f"uturc home of the Uncornpuhgre if a sufficient amount of :1gricul t11rnl land l\';ls available. S:ince

suffic.icnt quantity of Lind h':1s not (·:on:o·idcrcd to be available the Un-


Utcs \\'ere moved to ihc Tt..'rritocy of lit;ih in Sc_ptcrnbcr, J.88.l.


River Utes, pccpct:1 ttors o-f the !-lcckcr '.·lJ: '.-;acre, \•fere imrncdi-

•··-i:cly removed to the Uintah Rcscrvati.on, Tcr!'i.tory uf Utnh. Victims of Meeker -lassacre and/or thc:ir famLlies wc1 e paid set sums totalling

for t1,;enty yea-rs out of ;-1nntl"i tics designated for the \'Jhite


Utcs.


The fulfillment of any other provis.Lon of the t,:cnty was contingent i_:fon the surrender or ;1pprel1c·nsi.on of all guilty partjes uf the }sieeker

Once nll guilty p:1rti_es 1-:crc ;1i::·countcd for, the 11Gr e a t Wldte


.,,tit her 11 t1.·ould. cuntinuc to pL'ovi.de the b.:=1sic neccssLtics----houscs, wagons,

'('. ;_:

J icult_ural implements, stuck cattle, sciw :ind grist rnills--until the Utes


-piil_d sustain themselves. Sixty thous<ind dollars :in annuities due to the

previous treaties, the payment of $ )0,000 "annually .forcve-r" for Colorado .land, payment for improvements on the cc:dcd land, and

1 <l<litional SLS,000 <1ppr0p·riated by Co11 1·ess was to be tli.st1·ibutcd i11 a The Suuthcrn !Jtes rC'ceivc-d onc--th·i 1·d. The Unc.ornpahgre

received one--half. The White [ iver Ut.c-s received one-sixth.


A five-member commission, 1ppo:i.nted by the Prc'.;illcnt h'ith the odvice consent of the Senate, ·,:ns '·o carry out the prov i ; ions of the treaty. commission \\';-is to present the trec:ity to the !Hes ;1nt..l obtain the con

threc-.fotrrths of the cidlllt males. They \\'ere further instructed a census of the Ind:i::ins, ;1sc.crt;1in the ·improvements made by the

on the ceded land :1n<l oversee their rc1!:oval, location and settle

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Thefi.na.l rcqu·J J'(:lflcllt of the t'O!iilniss·ion \•,';lS to rn;1kc ;·i fu] l l'cport


land allotments 1nc·Judlng :1n '.lc'cur;:itc 1n;ip of .survey <:nd the condi­ a.llottcd .land, locate and c ;t:thli'.'ih new ;-1.gcnc.ics, cst·iniate


ancl

of house:; needed ;tml thci r L·.o.st ;rnd the rnnnber of school-

·t e tc.I1crs ne'e<IC<l . 8


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of the Gunni.son an<l Grand Rive:1'S md begin ,_1 fi.rwl trek to the The policy 0dvoc 1tccl since 1863 t.ha.t the r'Utes :,iust C:olorado could conti11ue to seek l1er rlestiny.


pp. 180-86.

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U!i\PlEH I J


l i :[ !.UCK OF Ti ii'. liHt\\'i


his survey of the Colora<lo Rockies (18c/3--l816) 1_n order that ;;-111


atlas of tl1e region co11ld be prod11ced as a tarigi!Jl_c 1:cs11lt justi­


the survey_, but the expenditure o.f the monies, from $65,000 000 each yca-r, 1·,chi.ch had been <:pprupriatcd by Cc1ng.ccss. The knmd.-

and the skill of !·LJ yclc n 1 s chief t.opogr,1piH:r, .Lime:> Terry C:irrlncr, ,,'as


topograp'.1crs h:1s bnscd, and then pctrticipated in the study of Another topographer of the Eayrlen Survey, !fill iamHenry Ho.1rnes


the age <inJ contou-rs of the f(.:nnat·ions be- the Surface. 1/·/-i l l i am Ecnry J 1ckson, h'·ith his brill'i.rn1t photography,

to d·ispc:l the myths of t.he teTr:ito-:ry. l The ,1tlas 1dt.i.ch re-


the pai.n:_;t;ik.inF rn;ithei'iatical ,,,'ork, m:ignific.ent sketches, cut-


.: rawings, -1nd photogr,iphs cornpl cted by these men and ot:hc1:s of the


other ·interested per:,;ons 1 va lu,ib.le tool--a


;§ttably clear conception of the -features of the Co lor;:1do Rockies .

.-'.·-\

-?lll the s1.m1.rneTs of 187 ) ;rnd .1871t the T('li:Ote !'.lk t·iollnt,iins h'ere t:.>xplorcd.

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cnt from most of the other i·a11gc.s of Colnrudo. The J I ks :11-c L'ompuscd of a


These rocks, often cn1rnpl.tY1 ,rnd lii ly ·i:ctt:i:1t,:phosccl, ;!Te cut by innni rous


Sills, dikes and other i.ntnisiuns hich c:iu:.;cd 1:1i:H.-r;11 cnri.chmcnt lcKally. gl;ici_crs fonncd :;1ong the (_·ccsts of the J:lk >-1onntci·ins, nwny of the

ll:c :nnuntains :1t the upper ends of


va] leys contain horse -s;wc 'C,] aped, deep, :.. lccp .1-:,I:'.. :cd r-cc.csses caused


erosion. T(_) !lolmc.:s Lile l:Lk i-iounta ins \-ict'C the most startLing


in form ;:ind in color of ;11iy FHJ1_1nt:-1ins in the Uniteci St; 1t c s . 2

When the snrvcyors h·ere finished h'ith their tasks the Elk t·.-Jountains,


lly in the area of futun:- ,\spcn, h'crc no longer n,nnclcss, untrodden,


peaks. Apprcci 1tive of the be; nty of the fourtt 'en thousand foot

(


Jciscriptive namc•--C=istlc Pc:ik, purp1e jn color, n<.1ncd because o-f the strik- along its ridges; the :-.Jaroon Bells, orig inally i"laroon Hountain

its dual cones, named becallse of its color; Pyramid Pe 1k, known


Black Pyramid or simply Pyramid by the Hayden Survey, named because of


ot1tli11e; C:;t11itol Peak 11J1ned also lJccat1se of its form; a11d


ncmied bcc:nise of the ::i:iss of .snmv i_n the :·1.rnph i theatre on the These 1nen also n;rn1ed ']\'c,;1.sure /!ounL1.in ;1nd \\'hitehouse }.Joun-


w2 . H. Iiolmcs, "Report on the G(;ology of the \ortlnff:stc-rn Portion of

k-R a ng e , 11 f_E·ighth.J 1\nnu:-11 Report of the llni_tL'd St";itcs Cco_logic::tl a_nd Ceo-

aphicnl Sur\1-C) --(_)--rtTl·e··--·.-1,e-_ :l TtO-l:-r;;-s·-;---y:):ilJ-]--,!cTI1. - (;)To·;-:1d )- and P:1rts o-f _.\dj a-

nt Terr j_ t o rc s-·;·· -[i8Tl·1·g--·;il ·1 (;-1)0ft--·o-r-_-_1_,_-_-_,_--_,_1_,_;_l_._ -'- ;-s_·_--_-_, _l_-_t_-'_ -_l'_rl'-_c -_x_p 01' at. i 611 f Or th C

1s1 4_, 1,r:-s0 7:C. - - -- -- --------------- ---

:_ 3 J o hn L . .Jerome 1:c1rt, ro11rtcen Thous:,nd Feet: A !!-ist.ory of the \am-

- ly As ccn ts,,.0 F th C --_-!-llih t:c;-1·_-(-;·1 -ii" fO Vt:,-:"l"iz'S'" (Del"i\;c r·:--- "th-c··--( -()T<_)_r:1c'fo·----

}lllt ainCllib ·---1 fT2-):- e-1;·1.-Y1l t--o:r ·1J,-e- -1§:iT-- s e· :0-ll<l--c:::-d i_ t i On) ' pp . 21 -· 2 2 .



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in the area of futirrc Harblc and, of coui·se, llaydcn Peak in the ;irca Ashcroft. All of these n;irncs have rc-inaincd as testililoni_als to

daring men of the Hayden Survey.


,J rnncs Gardner I s most dif f icll1t ;rnd cb ngcrous c l.irnh occurrc<l on August

1873, Nhcn he tackled Snm-:mass Peak. Th-rce t.imcs his assistant pre­ vented Gardner from falling back \\1a r <ls by placing the transit rod against back. Undaunted by his near I i haps, Gardner wrote of the beauty of

Elks with its many grassy mea<lows and thousands of wild flowers. Wind- ing in and out of the cool shade of the aspen trees gave him a great feel­ ing of solitude. William Byers, owner and editor of the _Rocky Mountain News, who accompanied the surveyors 1n 1873 looked on a scene of total beauty beyond description from the top of SnO\;mass Peak. The mass of snow

as described by Henry Gannett, a topographer with the Hayden Survey, was fully five square miles--probably the nearest approach to a glacier in the Rocky Mountains. 4

'111e Elk Mountains were still extremely rugged and isolated when Hayden and his assistants finished' their tasks, but the i·ange was no longer terra incognito. In his reports of the area, Hayden was generous in his praise stating that the geology was the grandest and the most varied that he had seen in his lifetime of experience. AcconJing to Hayden, the area not only resembled the grandeur of the Canadian Rockies, it was the treasure vault

of the wor l d . 5 With praise such as this it did not take long for prospec­

tors to investigate the region and establish mining camps. /\mong the


413 ar t l et t , re !- Survet:3_, pp. 86, 111; I-:art, E- - 'te 2-.:r!1o sa - Cet,

p. 22.

58a r t l e t t , Creat Surveys, pp. 110-11; George Gibbons llayes, - :_!:!J:ng

DGIVJ_l. t,o_ll_cdrock (Cedar Rapids, I01rn: The Pn,mier Pi-css, 1960), p. 216.

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26


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Aerial view of Mount Hayden at the junction of Conun­ drum Creek and Castle Creek, 1976

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n


c;;mps cst;ibl i. hcd \\'Cl'C i-11.•o of si_gni ficanc.c---/\spen and Ashcroft.


is possible tl1 1t tl1e first 11rospectors of tl1e region exa1ni11 ! n1aps


-T--e-r--r-i-tory publish1..:d in 1-87'/ and noti.ccd the Palco: oic limestones of ElMount,dn .range. Frospectors had learned t.hrcnit',h experience in the

:

Paleozoic 1imestonc knm.,'n as 11 Bl uc 1 or Leadville Lime-


ricl1est ore. 1:urtl1er i11vcsti.gation revealed tl1at there


Castle Creek Valley similar to those at Lendville in rocks Although prospectors found promising mineral in the re-

1879, they decided an expedient withdrawal from the area was nec­


\'ot only was winter appToach:ing_. but the prospectors \Vere trcs-


on the forbidden Reservation of the Ute Indians. At any other time


on Indian land was not considered significant. That year i_t


In the fall of 1879 the Northern Utes staged an uprising at the White River Indian Agency killing all of the white men including Indian Agent Nathan 0leeker and kidnapping all of the white i;omen including llceker's wife

and daughter. Although a God fearing man, Nathan i\leeker \,:as misguided in


his attempts to subdue the nomadic Northern Utes. The Utes did not wish


to be farmers; farming ,vas a degrading occupation for people \\'ho had lived and roamed freely with the land. The f.inal straw in the series of in<l.i.gni- ties came 1shen Meeker forced the Utes to plow up their race track. This

final act of defiance cost Nathan Meeker his life and the Utes their home­


land in the Shining Mountains. In the spring of 1880, prospectors safely returned to the Castle Creek Valley and continued to search for mineral bonanzas.

In ,lay, 1880, two prospectors, C. B. Culver and W. F. Coxheacl, on

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211


way to lhc (;unnison country, co11tinucd to find promising mineral as


up Castle Creek. They become convinced that their bonanza


lould be found on the north side of Jhc Elk "fountain range rather than on Since the th'O were short of supp lies they camped on the

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Ashcroft; Coxhend then rct11rncd to Leadville for needed While i'1<liting for the sllpplLes, Culver \Vas so persistent in try­

<livcrt otl1ers to prospect i_n tl1e vi.ci.11ity on tl1cir way to Ruby and


that he became known by some of the miners ciS ['Crazy Culver. 11 He ftprevailed; by the time the needed supplies arrived from Leadville t1<enty­

<,three men were in camp. Unofficially, Cnstlc Porks City had begun. Al- though the camp originally derived its name from its location at a supposed

tl1e waters of Castle Creek, the 11ame met with disfavor a11d was

thereafter changed to Ashcroft. 6

The .formation of a i'-fincT's Protective Association which occurred on


June 17, 1880, 1vas the first order of business for the new camp. Charles


B. Culver was elected president with James Cochran elected secretary. In


a committee of five was appointed for investigation and complaint. Within two weeks of the first meeting of the Protective Association a court­ house ,,,;as cot1pletcd--the first sign of permanence in the new ''city. 11 Al- though not large--twenty-five feet by thirty-four feet--this building served

as a community center during its existence.


With the first building completed, the Association deemed it advisable to officially establish a town since the population of the camp had grown

to ninety-seven. Accordingly, a town company open to all who wished to join was organized. An official survey of the camp was made by Harry Wilkes, a

(

6Ashcroft Journ_:,_1=_, I-lay 2, 1882, p. 1.

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of the comp0ny. The loc ition 1vns entered as Castle Forks P]acer, States Survey No. 2016 with the General I.and Office at Lcadvil le.

the establishment of the comnmnity--$54O foT a \Yater

and a half long, S200 for the courthouse and $135 for the sur­ pa-r-tinlly covered by the to\vnsi_t.e company admission fccs--onc

1}0l 1ar cash nn<l one day's labor or five dollars cash . 7

The nch1 cornmunity \Vas la_i_d out into 8 11 0 lots, e;ich t:wcnty·-five feet andonehundred forty feet deep, and cornpri scd only the northern por­ of the Cast le Forks Placer. Two st n cts, each one hundred feet wide, desig11 1ted as main arteries--Fifth Street, tl1c cnst-west artery, and Street, the north-south businc<,s artery \Vhich already contained the

":courthouse. All other streets h'ere seventy feet wide and all alleys h1 er e


twenty

t. ect

.<l 8

e.

w1


A vital mc1n1Jer of tl1e fledgli11g comm11nity, tl1e assayer, Professor Levi J. Colburn, received the honor of cJ-100s·ing the first lot after the official establishment of the town for his office. lie selected a lot on the corner of Third and Main. Lots were then equally ,ipportioned to the nincty--scven members of the t o\\1 n s i t e company, each member receiving eight lots by t,._io separate drawings. After the two drawings the Temaining lots were set aside to defray tl1e association's expenses. 111 t11e fj_rst draw-

ing ea ·h member of the company, as his nmne \\1a s called from the associ­


ation's. record book, stepped fon,ard and dreiv a numbered slip from a hat to designate his turn in the selection process. Each member was then en­

ti t led to select one 1ot of his choice. "Dutchy," a local miner, began by


7rbid.


8Town Plat, Ashcroft, Colorado, Plat Book Number One, p. 12, Pitkin County Courthouse.

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30


lot on the corner of Main and Third h'11ich was eventually occu- Slater's saloon knmm as the Little Church on the Corner Saloon.

The second <lrawing which Nas somc\\'h;.1t more complicated than the first, member to seven lots. Theseven lots a member received were

11 l u c k of the d r mv. 11 Twc ;1ppointcJ tel lees, .Joe Lyons and


: ' s Boughton, each drew one slip from separate hats. The lot slip, dra\ 1 n rrst, designated the number of a lot on etthcr Castle Avenue or Main St-rect [ --;:\ ell as the numbers of t\VO adjoining lots on each of the other three

Theother slip of paper drawn designated by number a name t•1hich


on tl1e association's record lJook. Although a n1cmber did not l1ave


freedom in his choice of lots, each }wd to agree that the div'is i.on had been cornplcted in a tTaditionally democratic manner. After

division each rncrnber could use or dispose of his lots as he so chos e . 9


On August 12, 1880, the United States Postal Service csta_blishcd the post office for the new community approving the name of Ashcroft, Gunnison Comity, Colorado ctnd appointed ,John R. Nelson as first postmaster. Louis

  1. Teuscher served as interOm postmaster the- fol lowing winter, receiving the official appointment on February 18, [881. 10

    There are t\.;o conflicting stories) neither of which can be absolutely verified, pertaining to tl1e 11ame of Asl1croft. An e11terprisi11g mi11er, ·r. E. Ashcraft 1,as in the vicinity in 1879 and establ ishcd a camp called Highland

    at the confluence of Conundrul!l Creek and Castle Creek six miles down stream from the future community of Ashcroft. Although 1-ligh land folded shortly after its inception, T. E. Ashcraft remained in the area. The community


    9Ashcroft Journal, May 2, 1882, p. 1.


    10u n i t c d States, General Services Administration, Nat:ional Archives

    and Records Service.

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    Castle Forks City supposedly ivas rc11:1mc,d for this man sLncc he hc lpcd its development. It is said th;1t the 'a I bccunc an 'o I through


    It is also poss Lblc that the n:nnc Ashcroft 1vas derived from the com-


    location in a h i.gh rnountai.n va 11cy near a grm•ith of mountain /\sh Croft is a ,vord of Ang10-S;1xo11 origin Jc11oting a s111al], e11closed

    The puzzle remains to this <lay. Ashcroft may have been named


    a resident or it may ]1ave been i11dicative of t]1c flora altl1ot1gl1 tl1e


    tree is not a comn1on tree native to tl1e area.


    On August S, 1881, the name of the community was changed to Chloride.


    Sin·ce the mineral in the area was composed of seemingly vast pockets of chlorides, some of the miners fe]t that Chloride was a more Fitting name

    for the community. Although the name \\'as officially changed, the majority of the miners as well as the nrn-;spapcrs continued to refer to the community as Ashcroft. The majority prevailed; on .January 3, 1882, Ashcroft again

    became the official name of the comm uni t y . 1 2

    Sometime during the month of A11gust, 1880, the young camp was shocked by the attempted establishment of a rival community. As a rival community_, Hunley's Addition (also spelled llunclley) became a short-lived 1·cality after tl1e Ute Prospecting, lining and Smelting Co1npany 1 co11sisti11g of twelve

    heavily c.1rrned men, jumped one half of the to\\'11 site., the southern portion


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    of the Castle Forks Placer. These men erected a house, the lower portion


    llRuth Estelle hltthews, "A Stu,ly of Colorado Place Names" (unp11b­ lished Master's thesis, Stm1ford University, 1940), pp. 236-37; "luriel Sibell Holle, Stampede to Timberline: The Chost Towns and Mining Camps of Colorc1do (Chicago: Swallow Press, Inc., 1969), p. 228; ·Len Shoemaker, l c,,iiT11g"To-rk Valley: An Illustrated Chronicle (3rd eel. revised: Denver: Sundance Ltd., 1973), p. 35.

    12Na t i o na l Archives and Records Service.

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    \iof Jogs ;rnd the upper portion of c:rnvas, and let it he kno1vn that they would hold the ];incl at all costs. Theclnim j1w1pcrs were quietly forced to acquiesce in their hopes \\'hen· t.}1Lrty---onc un:inncd residents c;>f Ashcroft Jnarchcd to the cabin_, destroyed the notice of rcsi.stant.'.e by chopping down the tree on which it 1;1:.is posted> nnd g;_1vc the illc gal inh -ibit<.111ts three

    days to vacate the premises . 13 In \ugust, 1881, tll"is land 1\1:is purch<.1sed


    Cooper from fahcard lluclson for $1,UO. ;\ccording to the deed, the been located by Frank Enzcnspcrger, attorney--·in-fact for Edward

    Hudson, on December 12, 1879. On November 21, 1881, the plat of Hunley's

    ·-Add.it.ion to J\shccoft, Colorado, a total of onehllndred sixty acres, was filed for record in the Pitkin County Co ur t hou s e . 14 The i.ntended rival community of 1880 i.nstc<.ld became an unofficic1l extension of Ashcroft in


    1881.

    J\s a munng community, f'-shcroft h'Ould have failed :irnmedi.:"J.tely had it (


    not been for two important mineral discoveries h'hich revived faltering optimism. The first important strike in the vicinity occurred on May 20,

    1880, when ,Jack King and Jim Richardson, partners of Cooper and Company

    found galena, gray copper and brittle silver on Bonanza Hill . 15 The ore assayed fronl. forty to 400ounces. An even richer strfke w.1s unearthed in June, 1880, when T. E. Ashcraft located the North American on Bald Houn­ tain. 'fhe ore reportedly assayed as high as 14,000 ounces of silver to


    13As h c r o f t Journal, ,loy 2, 1882, p. l.

    14Qui t Claim Deed, Book One, p. 92, Pitkin County Courthouse; Plat of I-Iu nl c y 1 s Addition, Plat Book Number One, p. 10, Pitkin County Court­ house.

    15Th e miners in early day Ashcroft had names foT the nuuerous gulches, hills andmountains around Ashcroft. In many cases I have been unable to correlate these early day names with present day names.

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    ton.16

    :l.3


    With renewed dreams of success, miners again began to search in ear­


    i'!umcrous discoveries \·Jere soon made on Slate Mountain, a secondary


    ··:.-peak to the cast of C;istlc Peak. THO of these, the Montezuma and the Tam


    •··o.'Shantcr located by Atkinson and Chancy, proved to be very important not


    ·-only for t]1c co11ti11L1cd 1n111i11g activity of tl1e district, but also for the


    continued life of Ashcroft. The Highland Chief located by Charles Bovard Company and soon sold to Nelson a11d S1nitl1 for $800 was anot]1er promis­ f.i.nd on Slutc :-.fountain in 1880. The Wichita and Grayback mines, each

    a vein of high grade ore .>hawing galena,. gray copper and native sil­ wcre found by Bob \\kCollum and Ike Boesch. L. N. Worthington located

    the Unicorn wh·ich joine<l the Tam 0 1 Shanter on the west side of Slate Moun­


    tain, 0-!ontezurna basin.


    A short distance south of Ashcroft, ChaTlcs Barg and Gus Hoberg Bade a valuable strike on Hogan's Peak. An immense body of low grade ore found in the Silver Boy and the Gold ihng was worked during the winter of 1880- 1881. The Pearl Group, locators unknmin, comprised of the Pearl, Hoosier

    Douglass, Sterling, Real Del Nonta, and l ke lodes on Pearl Mountain seemed to be rich in silver when first located in 1880. Leahy, lialsh, and Harrington ,,ere the locators of the Columbia on Brilliant Hill, oneof the first discoveries of the district.

    Thefounders of Ashcroft, C. ll. Culver and W. F. Coxhead, were also busy locating the Captain Kid, one and a half miles west of Ashcroft, con­ sisting of a well-defined vein of low g-rade ore which could be seen for a quarter of a mile. T1vo other valuable claims, the Little Lester and the



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    16Ashcroft Journal, May 2, 1882, p. 1.

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    joining the North American on Bald lountain h'cst of town, here

    located by Culver and Co xh ca d . 17

    The spring and summer of 1880 \\'o,rc eventful. Not only had important mnclc and drc;rnis of h'calth rcki_ndlcd, but a town had also

    By the cqd of the fi·cst .sen.son several signs of pcr­ ''.tnanence appeared in town. The courthouse, bullt with the perseverance and

    ,-'cooperation of the entire camp, an<l the assay office of Professor Colburn


    ,\\!"ere in evidence on Main Street. All other pennanent buildings were on


    .James Cochran, Pat Cox, and Ed Hamilton were responsible


    town recorder's off.ice. The post office \Vas erected by l\'elson and


    J. D. Parker built a small store and Thomas Combs framed a store ond Flynn which was not completed until 1881. The J\fonaghan

    Carney 3n<l Hillis were proprietors of small log saloons. A

    log cabin to be used both as a dwelling and store house for \-linter supplies (

    Bovard, i'lcCullom and Boesch was also in evidence.

    'I11ere \Vas also a sign of permanence north of tm'ln. .Jack Leahy, Phil Harrington and Pete Anderson located a ranch, fenced it, and built a cabin. Drury, Sweeney and others located the small strip of land between Leahy's ranch and town although nothing perrn;.-rnent ,vas bui]t. Thent \\' community had met adversity within its bounclarics--the attempted establishment of a Tival community--an<l prevailed.

    Seven hardy souls, Peter Carney, Charles Bovard, Bob t,lcCollum, Ike Boesch, L. C. Teuscher, Charley Barg nnd (;us loberg, decided to remain in camp that fiTst winter. The majority. th1Jugh, sought winter quarteTs else­

    where after promising to retun1 to Ashcroft no Inter than June 1, 1881, when


    (

    17Ib i <!. , pp. 1-3.


    ts

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    35


    'he Miner's Protective Association for the Columbia Mining District would


    18Ibid., p. 1.

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    CHAPTER III


    BOOMING, BANGING, BLASTING


    Ashcroft, still in a stage of raw infancy, received an immediate toward maturity in the spring of 1881. One of the first arrivals

    a woman--the wife of C. B. Culver. Ashcroft was no longer exclu-


    It is a matter of conjecture what thoughts S·. Culver had as she looked at the primitive conditions which still;

    <··hsted in Ashcroft after spending six long, arduous weeks on the road


    ,in the ·company of her husband and Peter O' Ear a. Perhaps she shared the the excitement and the optimism of her husband or perhaps

Soon after the ·arrival of these hardy travelers, Messrs. Flynn,


Company brought - in an immense stock of groceries and mining·


.supplies on jacks from Buena Vista.· Flynn soon developed a reputation

for fair dealing and business sense which held him in good stead with other members of the community. Vial ter W. Borom also brought in a large

stock of groceries and mining supplies and likewise ran a good bus i ne s s . 1 Ashc:roft's boom time had begun. How long it would last was. anyone's guess.

The ·mining developments of the season of 1881 seemed to assure a long and glorious existence for the ·fledgling community on its: way to maturity. In July the North American located in 1880 on Bald t!ountain

1As hcr of t Journal, May 2, 1882, p. 1.


36

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37


roduced the richest rock yet discovered in the camp, over 10,000 ounces and black sul phur et s . 2 Discovery and location of mining pro­

at a furious pace.' ,The Rocky Mountain Sun continually reports of Ashcroft and the Columbia Mining District. 3

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The Yellow Boy Group on Slate Mountain near the Tam O'Shanter con- of the Inez, North Star, Yellow Boy and Bon Ton and owned by the

Sowle brothers, Mc Carthy, Flynn, Davidson and Tappin, was ivorked with Large quantities of ore were shipped to Leadville. In

•September, 1881, this group was known as the finest unsold property on

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Mountain. C.B. Culver was encouraged by his discovery on Copper The Goddess of Liberty was a valuable claim assaying at 83 to

otmces of

s.ilver per ton. 4


At the head of Pine Gulch above Crystal Lake the Tucker group, con­ sisting of the Lost Treasure, Tucker, Smuggler, l\lhi te Quartz and Horse Shoe lodes, was the scene of back breaking labor. Shafts were sunk to depths of ten to fifteen feet and tunnels ranged from thirty to sixty feet in length. Ores from the Lost Treasure assayed from 100 to 1,500 ounces silver to the-ton. Assays of ore from the Tucker lode came in at 125 to

200 ounces of silver to the ton. The vein in the Smuggler was two feet in width with the ores assaying 40 to 100 ounces of silver to the ton. The value of the ores increased as more depth was gained. Below the Tucker


  1. _Rocky Mountain Sun (Ashcroft and Aspen), July 16, 1881,p. 2.

  2. I have chosen to include only- a few of the mines in the district in this chapter. To -include more would not only have made the chapter lengthy, but also boring. A list of these and other mines in the district canbe foui1d in the Appendix.

4Ashcroft· Journal, May 2, 1881, p. 1.

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38


to the north and west the Dickson, Bl uc Stocki.ng, Nora or Captain,


Elk, Alps and Little Minnie lodes seemed to have the same charac-

5

gray copper, galena and silver ores'a; the Tucker group.


September 3, 1881. a big strike was reported on Pearl Mountain. The Mining Company of Philadelphia, owners and operators of the Alycon an extension of the Pearl lode, released assay reports ranging in

from 3,522 to 5, 752 ounces of sil vcr to the ton. Weekly reports con­


',nued throughout September. On September 10, the twelve assays of the evious week ranged from 3,000 to 6,000 ounces of silver. Thevein, eight

in width, could he traced for over 1,000 feet. According" to the ·own­ offers for purchase of the Alycon extending into thousands of dollars

refused. In November, Captain Jack Mc earthy pf Leadville· sent


assay certificii,:e to the ·owners for Alycon ore valued at $12,613.44 of


Paying mineral in large quantities was unearthed on Castle Peak., The


;•Eureka, Good Hope, Panther, Gertrude, Robin Hood. and Porter lodes all·


•;radiated from one huh. The veins ranged from five to ten feet in each


)¾'•claim 1·1i th mineral cropping out on the surface on all sides; Four feet.· from·the surface rich chlorides were struck in the Panther lode. 1"ne aver­

assay from the Porter was 100 ounces with well defined veins of galena



TI1e first newspaper to represent Ashcrpft began publication on July 1881, in Aspen. The Ashcroft Herald, Thomas Z. Ferguson, manager, was

Rocky Mountain Sun of Aspen. The paper continued as a


publication until 1884 when it was no longer financially advanta-

the parent newspaper. 16


The job of the nei;spaper editor in any


was to laud the accomplishments of the camp and to taunt people to solve problems in the camp. The editors of the Ashcroft

Mountain Sun ·did just that.·

Tiuoughout the summer months of 1881, the editor of the Rocky .Moun . Sun pointed out the need for smelters in, both Ashcroft and Aspen. The

:;::::"--==

mining activity of the areas warranted at least a half dozeh smel-


<. .He was adamant irt his praise that if giveri a chance both areas could Hie famed California Gulch. It was obvious to him that Ashcroft and should combine• and be the state capitqLl7, they nqt only h d first hotels; :their full· qtiotil of. bars ·and billard rooms and banks of all·

·delightful drives and the :finest climate under, the sun. ne•minor drawback in Ashcroft and Aspen ,was thaLno tailor \vas in. resi-.·,'

rn either pl ace.18.


15G d ifera l Record, Book A, p. 542, Pitkin County Courthouse.


16Ve i'y few original copies of the Ashcroft Herald still ·exist;' Those do exist are in such poor. condition that they·are of little help to

-researcher.,:-

17As'h.croft and Aspen were not· contiguo'us, but 'instead wei·e separated distance ,of twelve miles. At the •time of· his statement a good road

not exist. between the two communities.,.,


18Ro cky Mountain Sun (Ashcroft and Aspen), July 20, 1881, p. 2; and

,,ugust 20, 1881; p. 2.

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44


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Permanent growth in Ashcroft did not come easily. Although the real estate business was good with two honest finns in the field, many parties

wishing to build were prevented from doing so due to the lack of lwnber.

'

The lumber yards were just not able to satisfy the demand for their pro­


The miners and capita lists who came into Ashcroft in 1881 were not there for their heal th. In September, twenty new buildings were under con-

struction. The hotels were overrun; more accommodations were needed. Ash­

was booming with its rich mines and enterprising ci t i zen s . 19

In August, Davis H. Waite, County Superintendent of Schools for Pit­ County, issued an appeal to the residents of Independence and Ashcroft

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to each petition the state for a school so that Pitkin County could get -. fair share of money. Eligibility was possible if the community had

youth between the ages of 6 and 21. The ladies of Ashcroft gave a fes-· raise money for the school fund. Three hundred dollars wasrais­

$100 of which was turned over to the trustees. The rest of the money stolen by Ferguson (first name not available). Ferguson was later ap­

prehended by authorities in Denver and was jailed· there. Themoney was not L ,,,e c ov er ed . 20

On September 10, a notice toparents was published to inform the com­ of Ashcroft that school would commence on Monday, September 12, at

Classes would be held in the courthouse. J. P. Flyn , president of the School Board, and Henry Kunz, secretary, had contracted Miss Emma Perry to manage the scholars of School District No. 2. Parents and guard ,

were admonished to please be prompt with their children. The first


19Ibid·., July 20, 1881,'1'· 2; August 20, 1881, p. 2; and September 17,

p. 2.

?- O Ibi-d., August_ 6, 1881, p. 2; AshCToft Journal, May 2, 1882, p. 1.

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school in Pitkin County opened with nrne boys and girls in atten- by the end of the first week nine more had enrolled. 21 By December, families were still in camp for th winter providing Miss Perry with


'fourteen students to instruct. Parents were encouraged to stop at the 'school to see for themselves the fine job being accomp l i s hed . 2 2

During the fall of 1881 Ashcroft was lauded as the boss mining camp the state by the local newspaper. Another miners' union had been es­

tablished and the population had increased to about one thousand. Gambling fplaces were going full blast and the people were congratulating themselves

,on Ashcroft' s second anniversary of existence. They were, in fact, lament­


ing that Ashcroft l1ad 'yet to record its first birth, first marriage, or On October 26, 1881, a most tragic and totally unexpected.

"'sudden death did occur- -H. M. Zuern of Laureton, Pennsylvania, fell l, 800


feet to his death from a high trail onQuaker Mountain. The trail, along• ridge, was, in places, scarcely wide enough for '.a foothold, The sides were steep and jagged for nearly a: quarter .of a,'mile ,dn

·either·side of the trail. Zuern and his partner, Jay Craft, had been in


'the Ashcroft area for six months mining and prospecting: At the time of Zuern's death, the two were nearing completion of a contract for the She0 · • mokin mine about three and one-half miles west of Ashcroft. Zuern was bur-

October 29 with the dubious distinction of having the first grave


new graveyard on the top of a little hill north of and overlooking the t own . 23

21 s ch oo l District 'No. 1 in Aspen· opened its doors to scholars on September 19, a .full .week after SchooLDistrict No. 2, opened ,its doors·,

22 Roc ky Mountain Sun (Ashcroft and Aspen), SeptemberlO, 1881, p. 2; September 17, 1881, p. 2; and December 3·, 1881, p. 2.


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23Ibid., October 29, 1881, cp. 2; Ashcroft·Journal, May 2; 1882, p. 1.

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New busi11csscs were co11stantly openi g tl1eii doors to the many eager


i:ustomers residing in Ashcroft. C. B. Culver started a boarding house on


·the corner of Main and Second. Mr. anq Mrs. John Baul ton operated the


on Castle Avenue. On Tuesday evening, September 13, a sur­ held at the hotel. Thehost and hostess knowing nothing of

,the party until its occurTence behaved admirably under the circq111stances.


,Three other hotels also began business in 1881. The Spencer House, the Hotel and the Covert House, all on Castle Avenue, did not lack for

A Thanksgiving party was held at the Covert House for the eleven families and 150 men still ·residing in Ashcroft for the winter; · It was·

largest party ever held in Ashcroft, a.diversion•for•the.winc


· ·

ter doldrums .. The City. Restaurant and Bakery owned by Bennett and Jordan Castle Avenue also provided comfortable beds for the 1·1eary. 24

Richard Perry ran a boot, shoe and stationary store on Castle.Avenue presided ·over· by his sister Emma when· school was not in session, ·To pro-,,, vide fresh meat for ,Ashcroft,. Charles Boesch opened. a meat market on Main.

·Theloldest store in Ashcroft was run•by c, H. Smith 'and proyided

merchandise and miners' suppli<ls. ·Kinney ,and Company and ,W,' W. Borom provided 'competition for Smith; · By the fall· of 1881, Captain Mc-. Carthy of Leadville and J. P. Flynn of Ashcroft had formed a partnership'·· which bought out both Kinney and Company and W.· W. Borom. In October; the·

new concern ordered five car loads of goods and supplies for the next sea

son's

25 '.

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trade:..1s..: --:-


24 Jb i d . ; September 3; 1881, p. ?; September 17, 1881, ,·p. 2; and Dec<" ember 3 1881;.p. ?; Ashcroft Journal, May 2; 1881,•p. }.

25 Rocky Mountain Sun; (Ashcroft. and Aspen),- September,..l 7, • 1881; p. 2;

October 29, 1881,' p, 2; October 22, '1881; p. 3; and October! 26,.'1881, jl, 3;

Ashcroft Journal, rlay 2, 1882, p. 1.

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47



The Teuscher brothers provided a valuable service with the Ashcroft Stable. B. L. Srnvle and Thomas Comb, knowing there was room for com­

a corral at the corner of Castle Avenue and Third Street, of the best locations in Ashcroft for a business of that kind. 81.iley Tyler provided hardi;are and stoves for the hard working miners. M. J.

and Tilford and Middleton established law offices. Thomas Duffy one of the best mining experts in Pitkin County offered hisser­ Forthose who wished to buy real estate or mines, Brooks and Dun°

In September, it was reported that J. 8. Brooks


of the firm of Brooks and Dunbar found an arrowhead made of the finest sil- while surveying on top of Silver Mountain. 2-6

For those i<ho 1·1ished to relax or to relieve the winter doldrums, Ash­ offered a·glee club, a dancing club, politics andthe legal estab-

lishment of Hunley's Addition: The Ashcroft Glee Club which met on Sunday


offered membership to both men and i,omen since the Glee Club's Jepertoire was religious songs. A dancing club was also organized with

,Charles Bovard serving as presiderit. Peter O'Hara was presented for County


Commissioner to represent the Ashcroft area. Presumably 0' Hara was a Demo­ ''·crat since Ashcroft reportedly had three registered Democrats for each reg­

istered Republican. Hunley's Addition, adjoining Ashcroft to the south;


was officially established during the fall of 1881 under the auspices· of


Isaac Cooper .. Professor Illsley andG. W. I-lull surveyed .the 160 acre tract into lots, blocks dnd s t t eet s . 27


26 Roc ky Mountain Sun (Ashcroft and Aspen), Se_ptember 17., 1881, p .. 2; October 8, 1881,. p., 2; October 19, 1881, p. 2; October 29, 1881, ·p., 2;

October 1, 1881, p. 4; November 12, 1881, p. 3.


27rbid:, September 3, 1881, p. 2; September 17, 1881, p. 2,; Septem­

ber 24, 1881; p. 2; October ·19, 1881, p. 2; and December 10, 1881, p. 2.

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48


The newspaper kept curiosity aroused with unexplained news items,


as "the Ashcroft boys are in hopes that the Aspen people will not hear


,,'nything about the mountain rat tragedy of the twenty-ninth. Keep it dark!" newspaper also issued a news item about one of Ashcroft' s most peaceful lawabiding citizens, Amos Kindt, an old-time Indian fighter and buffalo

His favorite pastime: was reportedly to go into seCTecy and count

calps and dwell on happy Indian harvests of the past. Amos Terrell was collecting material for a new book on Kindt entitled "Kindt' s

'rimes or Paulina's Lover on the War Path. " 28


With the numerous rich strikes and sales that became well known the state andcountry and the humming of saws and banging of

'anuners, the ground work for an immense boom during the season of 1882 was


The knmvn mineral resources of the area warranted tremendous Li:, xpectations; Would Ashcroft' s boom continue as a11 residents of Ashcroft oped that it would?,


28 I bi d. , October 29, 1881, p. 2; and December 10, 1881, 'p. 2.


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CHAPTER [V


Mm (;()I) )li\llE ,11\l'S TO l'IIT TIiie IJIVTL TN


A min:ing cwnp's success depended not only on 1-hc m.incral richness in its region, but <Jlso on the spirit of :its citizens. Tn January, 1882, the citizens of i\shl:.roft 1•.rcre gently rcninded that the time had passed when they could t;1ke the law .into their own hands. Due·ing the first week of

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the ne,v year, S. B. 11rut.::krnan \•las asked by Peter 01 !1a r a to leave town within ten minutes due to :in unexplained misuncl< rstanding. Bruckman, a m·ining and real csLate b1·okcr from Leadvi 1 lc, had or i_g·i n:-ll ly grubst;Jked Chaney and Atkinson, the locators of the T 1.m Q!Shantcr and lontezrnna mines. The edi- tor of the J\shcroft )Jeri -?:_ pTotcsted the singular treatment accorded Bruck­ man and scme of Ashcroft' s angrier citizens threatened to put the nc.,,:spaper out of business. ;';ot wishing to be forced out of business, the ne\,,:spaper appealed to the citizens' sense of justice and honesty. The incident in- valving Bruckman and the net\'spaper's protest of th;:1t incident, declared

the Ashcrof!_ !! - al_i!, should not be al loh'cd to jeopardize Ashcroft' s -reputa­


tion of justice and fair play 11or sl1ould it be allo11ed to force otl1ers wl10

wished to take up residence in Ashcrot·t to look elsc\\'J1ere. 1

Ashcroft was .looking forward to a bright, new season with a predict­ able population inc1 ease. A sy11opsis of Pitkin County appeared in J 111t1ary,

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1 Ro c.ky Mountain Sun (Ashcroft and Aspen), January 7, 1382, p. 2; and January· 14, 1882, p. 2. Bruck1na11 was forced to lenve tow11 because of a IHW suit he had in-stigated against the sel lcrs of the Tam 0 1 Shanter-Montezuma propei·tics. The LHv suit jeopardized ;\shcro.ft's very existence. ln light of this fact, the threat against the Ashcroft Herald is more understandable.


49

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50


included daily mail, a tclcgL1ph, school, good n c 1,-_'s pa pcr , ;1nd ti-10 smelters which were not yet suf.fi.ci.cntly cnmplct cd For use. Bu:_;i_ncss could be trans­

\Vjth D11cna Vista and Leadville vi.a /\--:_;pen ;Jnd T nd e:p c nd e nc e . 3

Ashcroft ront·inucd to p1·cp;1re f<n' the coming season. Even in .Janunry, lumber, at $:):") per thousand feet, wasst i 11 in great demand. The Florer

Leadville started a general supj)ly store on Castle Avenue. i'-lrs.


Mary Newton of Aspen announced that she i-.'Ould run a bakery and lunch stand to be opened early "in February. \Vilder and Company constructed a new saw­ mill to help u,cct the demand for lumber. Dick Allen, Charles W. Franklin and Arthur 1taitc ;111nounccd that they h'ould each begin a n ch1 s pa p er ea1·ly in the spring. Ashcroft h'as also hoping for a Tailroad by then. The town was definitely gTmdng; new arrivals \ e r e a da-i ly occurrence. Toh'n i.nccirpor- ation was needed, consequently, on J,nrnary 23, a meeting was held fo-r that purpose. A committee was set up to collect money to defray the expenses of incorporation. Voting on the resolution of -incorporation h'Ould occur in

the eaTly SpTing.4


The meeting on incorporation \Vas almost held in vain. On Tue day, January 24, Ashcroft had a narrow escape from fire. Thestovepi_pe on a Mr. Stockman's residence -fell onto the :roof, unnoticed. The roof was set aflame h'hen Stockman stoked the stove that morning. Prompt action by the


::?5j nee only eleven fami1ies and 150 men were 1n Ashcroft in December, 1881, tl1i.s figure is citl1 r erroncot1s or refers to an earlier, und.i.scloscd date.


3Rocky lountain - l2_, (Ashcroft and Aspen), '7anuary 7, 1882, p. 2.



1882,

4J-b_i_cl_., January 14, 1882, p. 2; .J,rnuary 21, 1882, p, 2; January 28.•

p. 2.

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Unidentified store and miners in early-day Ashcroft. (Courtesy of Denver Public L'ibrary, Western History Department)


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S2


:J\.shcro!'t p 1il brig:1dc p-rcvcntccl djs;istnr.5


Si.nee :--:ovcmbcT of l881, the vnluc of tmvn lots stead·i ly .i.ncrc:ased.


:ouring the month of December over 600 r\Sh -·.n1ft lots sol<l to buyers in Lc::1<l­