Murder on Table Mountain

This is a chapter from my book, NOTORIOUS JEFFERSON COUNTY (The History Press). This tale took place on Golden, Colorado’s famous landmark, Table Mountain.

In the late summer of 1910, a 59-year-old Denver woman named Maria Laguardia vanished. An 1890 immigrant from Italy, she married Michael Laguardia in 1875. The couple had no children.

Maria was known to carry hundreds of dollars stashed amongst the folds of her clothing, and her worried nephew and niece thought she might have been the target of a robbery. They contacted Mrs. Laguardia’s “god-daughter,” Angelina Garramone, who, along with two other women, was the last person seen with Maria. Angelina assured them that Maria Laguardia was alive and well and had simply gone off to meet her long-lost husband. Sixteen years earlier, Michael Laguardia had also disappeared after getting into some “trouble” involving a young girl.
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1897: A Year of UFO Sightings

Most history buffs who read about the frontier west don’t expect to encounter tales of “airships” and “strange lights.” However, if you’ve seen the film “Cowboys & Aliens,” and you believe everything you see on the big screen, you’ll know that these things do happen.

Once such event took place at the Silver Lake Mine, east of Kendall Mountain near Silverton, Colorado. Continue reading

Russian exile & artist, Gleb Ilyin’s long road to a farm in Broomfield

It’s a long, long way from the confluence of the Volga and Kazanka Rivers in eastern Russia to the rural farm community of Broomfield, Colorado – both geographically and culturally. One family who made this transformational journey, landing on a Broomfield farm in the 1940s, was Gleb and Natalie Ilyin and their son and daughter, Alex and Natalia. Continue reading

Pioneer clan in Broomfield: Brewers and Archers

During the first half of the Twentieth Century, Broomfield wasn’t big on growth. The 1900 census for the area had about four pages; the 1940 census blossomed to about six pages. It was a farm community with a small town center, the area we now call Old Broomfield. Younger children attended the Lorraine School or later the Broomfield School. When kids hit high school, the parents had to scramble about for a school in another town that would take the kids, then figure out a way to get them there. Continue reading

From farmland to suburb: Bal Swan and the Turnpike Land Co.

This article first appeared in the Broomfield Enterprise.

In the late 1950s, Broomfield was poised on the brink of transformation from farm and ranchland to a brand-new suburb of Denver. The people making this happen had formed a corporation called the Turnpike Land Co. This was a privately-held corporation with fewer than 20 stockholders, among whom was President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a fishing buddy of the principal owners. Continue reading

New book — Colorado Forts: Historic Outposts on the Wild Frontier

The Mamie Doud Eisenhower Public Library has been hosting a series of speakers that focus on western history with a special emphasis on Colorado.

The “History of the West Series” features lectures, films and discussions taking place once a month. The talks cover stories about Colorado’s coalfield wars, plains archeology, ghost towns, fly fishing in the West and many more topics unique to Colorado and the West. Continue reading

Town of Erie was originally called Coal Park

The article first appeared in the Broomfield Enterprise.

One of the oldest platted settlements in our region is the town of Erie, originally called Coal Park. In the 1860s, the area along Coal Creek as it meandered across the prairie was settled by a few hardy farmers. These isolated souls were connected only by crude wagon roads and by a stagecoach service along the Cherokee Trail, also known as the Overland Stage Route, which roughly followed today’s Highway 287. Homesteaders made good use of surface coal beds that dotted the plains and some ambitious folks earned a few extra dollars by gathering up the stuff and delivering it to customers by wagon. Continue reading