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

Christmas Past in the Front Range

Perhaps it’s just me but Christmas of the past has always seemed just a bit more Christmasy than today’s noisy shopping extravaganza. As it turns out, this perception isn’t always true, particularly in a place like Colorado, with our unruly beginnings. A good example is a charming Christmas poem printed by the fledgling Rocky Mountain News in 1860, penned by a sensitive soul who’d been shocked by the Christmas Eve goings on he witnessed in the streets of Denver. Continue reading

Pruden’s Ranch — Early outpost in Eldorado Springs

This article first appeared in the Broomfield Enterprise.

Back in the day when the Interurban tram ran from Denver to the Eldorado Springs resort, the last stop before Eldorado Springs was Pruden’s Ranch. When the line to the resort began operation in 1908, several years after the “Coney Island of the West” opened, the Pruden family had already been there for 24 years. Continue reading

Smelter Town of Globeville, Colorado had rowdy history

This article first appeared in the  Broomfield Enterprise.

One largely forgotten name from the early days of the Denver-Boulder area is the town of Globeville. Today a Denver neighborhood located just north of the tangled intersection of I-70 and I-25 (the “mousetrap”), Globeville was once a thriving town in its own right — with a very rowdy history. Continue reading

The Sturdy Scotch Brothers — pioneers of frontier Aspen

Among my Colorado pioneer ancestors were a couple of Scottish brothers named Davie and John Brown, who ran a company in frontier Aspen during the 1880s. The Brown Brothers Company graded numerous roads in the Aspen area and did the same to the railroad bed between Glenwood Springs and Newcastle, Colorado. Operating from offices at 516 West Hopkins Avenue, they also graded roads and built sewers within the town limits. They maintained a corral in town, where others apparently boarded their stock. Continue reading

The Mystery of the Silver Plume Shooter

On June 12, 1873, two prisoners escaped from the tiny jail in Georgetown, Colorado. Sometimes referred to as a “calaboose,” the jail was a small log building with a ceiling four-inches thick, “studded with heavy spikes, about three inches apart.” Using an augur and a saw, the two men cut a hole in the ceiling and climbed out into the moonlight. Continue reading

The blizzard of 1913 buried the state

This article first appeared in the Broomfield Enterprise.

Though it happened nearly a century ago, the Great Blizzard of 1913 lives on in local history books as the worst ever in Colorado. It began pleasantly enough, dropping an inch or two over the first couple of days in December.  By Wednesday, about eight inches lay on the ground. Children struggled to make it to school, many businesses began to close. On Thursday, life along the Front Range came to a screeching halt. Continue reading

How to make history out of fiction

A few weeks ago I watched a PBS program called “Tears in the Sand,” which tells the story of the Sand Creek massacre and other events in the history of the Cheyenne people. In an otherwise informative and moving program, I noticed some unfamiliar “quotes” from the letters of Silas Soule, a young cavalry officer who had been involved in earlier efforts to make peace with the nations, was present at Sand Creek and quickly became a whistle-blower about what really happened that day. Continue reading

Long’s Peak — Flat-topped Beauty of the Northern Front Range

This article first appeared in the Broomfield Enterprise.

From just about any spot in Broomfield, you can cast an admiring glance up at Long’s Peak, that grand mountain watching over us from the north. In case you don’t know, it’s the really big beauty with a flat top.  One of Colorado’s fabled fourteeners (a peak that rises over 14,000 feet), Long’s Peak is so massive it generates its own weather. Wind gusts have been clocked at the summit at a hair-plucking 200 mph. Continue reading

Young rural postal carrier makes the rounds in the 1920s

This article first appeared in the Broomfield Enterprise.

The U.S. postal service has a long history in our relatively young country, with Benjamin Franklin the first Postmaster General under the Continental Congress in 1775.  Out here in the West, the first mail carriers rode for the Pony Express, which was often the only link to the outside world for those trying to make their way on the frontier. Continue reading