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

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

Arapahoe City: Lonely marker all that’s left of early Colorado outpost

This article first appeared in the Broomfield Enterprise.

A lonely marker off 44th Avenue between Wheat Ridge and Golden is all that is left of one of the first towns organized in Colorado. Settled in 1858, the ghost town once called Arapahoe City lasted only about a decade. Continue reading

Old west cure for feeling pessimistic, irritable, and cross

Is this what the Brits mean when they say “Don’t get your knickers in a twist?”

From Casper Daily Tribune, October 4, 1918

From Casper Daily Tribune, October 4, 1918

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Mill owner Mullens was mired in juicy piece of Denver lore

This article first appeared in the Broomfield Enterprise.

The “Old Broomfield” area bordered by U.S. 36 and 120th Avenue is dotted with remnants and landmarks of historical interest, making life a bit difficult for those managing the 120th Avenue Connection project. The most prominent of these is the pair of grain silos on either side of West 120th Avenue at Old Wadsworth.
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Colorado Front Range life — a hundred years ago

This article first appeared in the Broomfield Enterprise.

If you’ve ever wondered what life was like in the front range a century ago, you can poke around in the online Colorado Historical Newspaper Database or browse through old newspapers at the Mamie Doud Eisenhower library. You’ll find that at least a few things haven’t changed. For example, around New Years Day, 1913, Golden’s Colorado Transcript reported that a “monster” windstorm ripped through the area at “a velocity of at least a million miles an hour,” breaking windows, pulling down chimneys and uprooting trees. 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

A century ago, the labor union was much more pervasive

This article first appeared in the Broomfield Enterprise.

A century ago, the labor union was much more pervasive in American society than it is today. Not surprisingly, Labor Day was a very popular holiday, celebrated with big events in just about every town in the Front Range.

Denver traditionally hosted a big Labor Day parade. In 1903, the parade featured 7,000 union members, all dressed in uniforms made specifically for the event. The frontier Denver department store, Daniels & Fisher (precursor to May D&F) awarded a banner to the best looking group of marchers, in this case the Painters and Decorators union. Second prize went to the Plasterers’ union. Continue reading

Visiting the Sand Creek Massacre site

On a trip organized by the Boulder History Museum, a group of us traveled by bus to the site of the Sand Creek Massacre on Saturday, September 15.  I was thrilled to see a new memorial to Captain Silas Soule in a pleasant picnic area, where we later ate lunch:


The yellow display on the left is an image of Soule’s handwritten letter to Major Ned Wynkoop, describing the terrible things that happened during the massacre. On the backside is a similar letter written by Joseph Cramer, another soldier from the Colorado First Cavalry.

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