Turning Back the Pages

30 years ago – September 11, 1987

A one room log cabin in Moon Gulch was destroyed September 4, when a fire engulfed the structure about 9:30 a.m. The blaze was spotted by Cookie Pfeifer from the Stage Stop Inn in Rollinsville, who reported to High Country Volunteer Fire Department that the building was already consumed by flames. High Country Fire Chief Dave Thomas said Wednesday the cause of the fire has not yet been determined, but there is some speculation it began in the fireplace and went out of control, or that possibly the fireplace collapsed, causing the flames to spread. Colorado Sierra Fire Department provided backup with one tanker, said Thomas. The firefighters were also aided by the owner of the Blue Spruce Cabins, who allowed them to draft water from his trout ponds to refill the tankers. The cabin was a total loss, but the surrounding forest was protected, according to Thomas. It is not yet known who owns the structure. The U.S. Forest Service believes it was built on forest service land. An investigation is under way to determine if the cabin was built illegally on government land, or if, perhaps, the lot had been sold to an individual.

By Roger Baker: Maybe it’s because I don’t live in “town,” but I find the shrill whistle of old railroad engine #71 a source of constant pleasure during my frequent jaunts down to Central and Black Hawk. I was reminded the other day though, that 100 years ago, whistles from even tinier engines first were heard in the Little Kingdom. The narrow gauge Colorado Central had already been in Black Hawk for 15 years, and had reached Central City four years after that, but in the summer of 1887 work began on the diminutive Gilpin Tramway, a two-foot rail line that was constructed for the sole purpose of hauling ore from the mines of Quartz Hill and beyond to the mills and smelters of Black Hawk. Mallory Hope Ferrell, a former airline pilot who at one time lived in Broomfield, wrote a book on the Gilpin Gold Tram that was published by Boulder’s Pruitt Publishing in 1970. The first track was spiked into place July 1, 1887, and the first “shay,” as the toy-like engines were called, arrived in Black Hawk on August 26. Then, as Mr. Ferrell puts it, “On September 1st, the ‘Gilpin’ was run about three quarters of a mile and it was reported that the whistle could be clearly heard on Main Street in Central City.” Noisy times those must have been in the gulch, with now two railroads running, stamp mills pounding, miners blasting (and sometimes getting blasted, so we read). But they were exciting times, too, and it’s nice to see a bit of that period come back to life today. Incidentally, progress on the Gilpin Tram continued throughout that autumn of 1887. On September 29, “The citizens of Gilpin were treated to a ride on the tram. The excursion train picked up a hundred people at the reservoir on upper Eureka Street and took them down to Black Hawk, where a tour was made of Mr. Fullerton’s stamp mill. The ride back to Central City took but a half hour. The train consisted of the ‘Gilpin’ and five ore cars fitted with temporary seats.” Ferrell writes that the first ore train came down the tram on December 11, 1887, but Frank Hollenback, in a small booklet on the tram published 12 years earlier by Sage Books, gives the date for the initial run as December 14. Well, nobody ever said that history was an exact science so no wonder I get so confused. Interestingly, the Gilpin County Library just purchased that Hollenback booklet from a rare book dealer down in Wheat Ridge. It bears the inscription: “Best wishes to Charles Robins, from the author,” and the date of 1959. If anyone knows how this book made such a circulation journey, I’d be interested to hear about it. I guess just like old engine #71, it’s another piece of Gilpin history that got away for a while, but finally made its way back home to the “Little Kingdom.”

Born: Karen North and Woody Skelton of Missouri Lakes Filing #2 are proud to announce the birth of their second son. Matthew Roy North Skelton was born at St. Luke Hospital in Denver on August 23, 1987. He weighed seven pounds and four ounces. Matthew’s older brother is Andrew. Grandparents are Bob and Sue North of Connecticut and Helen Skelton of Pennsylvania.

60 years ago – September 13, 1957

Central City Nuggets

Betty Colburn, the two year old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. H. Colburn, and granddaughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ray Colburn, formerly postmaster of Central City, was found yesterday morning about 6 o’clock, after a search of 16 hours. She was unhurt, with the exception of a few bruises and cuts on her legs, and was sound asleep when discovered by Syd Squibb, of this city. The news of her disappearance from the house of her daughter is building in Twelve Mile Gulch, about five miles west of Central City and one mile below the old town of Apex, was received here during the afternoon, and ready volunteers and members of the fire departments, here and Black Hawk, left immediately for the scene and conducted a diligent search without results. The fire siren was utilized at about 6:30 pm and more volunteers rushed to Twelve Mile, where they were joined by two Forest Rangers, the Boulder Rescue Group, State Patrolmen, and the County Sheriff. Plans were inaugurated for a systematic search, and with the help of walkie-talkies, flash lights and means of communication, the entire terrain was covered to an extent of a mile, but without results until early the next morning when she was found within a half-mile from the cabin, sound asleep in the center of a small path. She was carried to a doctor, who was one of the volunteer searchers, who stated that apparently she had suffered no serious ill effects other than exposure. She was taken immediately to one of the hospitals in Denver. It seems quite remarkable that a child could have survived the cold, the temperature being at the freezing point, all during the night, clad only in slacks and a thin t-shirt, and also more remarkable that the little tot could wander over uneven ground, covered with sharp rocks and rough bushes and still receive no serious injuries. About 150 people engaged in the search, and the lack of sleep and effort was well worth the time spent in finding the little girl before it was too late. The Women’s Auxiliary deserves much commendation for their excellent work in serving hot coffee and sandwiches all through the hectic night.

Congratulations are extended to Mr. and Mrs. Clifford I. Parsons, who celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary last Thursday.

Died: Our sympathy is extended to Lee Little in the death of the his wife in Colorado General Hospital in Denver last Saturday morning. She is survived by her husband Lee, two sisters, Olive House and Mrs. Mary Copeland, both of Phoenix, Arizona; one brother, Orville Fields, of Marceline, Missouri, and one daughter, Mrs. Margie Brikman, of Auburn, California. Funeral services were held Monday afternoon from the Clinger Mortuary, with interment in Crown Hill Cemetery. She will be well remembered by the people of Central City as she spent the summers here helping Lee in his Gold Mine store, and was loved by all who knew her for her pleasing smile and sweet personality.

90 years ago – September 16, 1927

After trying every plan suggested, and working for nearly three weeks, the three brothers of Charles Gommet, who was drowned in Nederland Lake, have given up the search for his body. These men had the lake dragged, the lake was dynamited, and the last effort was made by Ed Bice, city engineer of Longmont, with a diving bell. Bice spent over two hours under water last Sunday; on Monday he worked more than five hours. He found the bottom of the lake had great depressions caused by heavy dynamite charges which had been used in an effort to cause the body to come to the top of the water. It is thought that one of three things happened: the body was torn to bits by the heavy dynamite; was covered with rocks and dirt which were moved by the charges or has drifted to a part of the lake far from the place where it sank and is wedged between rocks which keep it from rising to the top. Not until all methods possible were used to get the body would the brothers abandon their efforts. There seemed to be nothing else to do and they have returned to their homes in Denver.

Mrs. William H. Couch, who since leaving here has been residing at Elkhorn, Wisconsin, arrived in Central a week ago on a visit at the old home and with friends.

Mrs. Faith Gow and son, James, of Vinton, Iowa, visited this city on Monday last, and made this office a pleasant call. The son is attending the state university at Boulder, and his mother is with him while continuing his studies.

Miss Laura Trenoweth, who spent a greater portion of her summer vacation with her mother in this city, left Sunday afternoon to resume her duties as one of the teachers in the public schools at Englewood, Colorado.

Wilfred Fullerton, vice president of the First National Bank, came up from Denver Tuesday morning, to attend a director’s meeting held that afternoon, returning to Denver during the evening hours.

120 years ago – September 17, 1897

Mr. R.B. Williams left for Denver Wednesday, to attend to business matters and visit with friends.

Mr. Charles F. Barker is erecting a dwelling house on Lawrence Street, just below the old St. Louis House, which has already been rented.

Mr. Albert Selak, of Georgetown was a visitor at his old home in Black Hawk the first of the week.

Jacob Bertagnolli, one of the mill men working in the Hidden Treasure Mill in Black Hawk, fell from the water wheel a distance of 20 feet last Monday night and was badly bruised by the fall. An examination revealed that no bones were broken, but the accident will lay him up for several weeks.

William Wellington, a miner working in the Fisk Mine, fell a distance of 30 feet last Saturday, having his collar bone broken, and suffering several bad bruises.

John Brohl and others have a contract to sink 70 feet on the Mammoth Mine, on the lower side of Spring St. They have finished 55 feet of their contract, and have some good looking ore on the dump taken out while sinking, which will be held until several loads are ready to go to the mill or sampler.

Mr. J.R. Quigley and company have taken a contract o the erection of a new shaft house and plant of machinery on the Success Mine, in Lake District, the shaft house to be 25×55 feet, and the machinery to be a 35 horsepower hoister, with a boiler of the same capacity. This property is being operated by the Success Gold Mining Company, composed of eastern capitalists who intend doing considerable work in developing the mines into a paying proposition.

Born: In Black Hawk, September 10th, 1897, to the wife of Eugene E. Clark, a daughter.

Born: In Russell Gulch, September 2nd, 1897, to the wife of George Godfrey, a son.

Born: In Central City, September 3rd, 1897, to the wife of Thomas Oxman, a son.

Born: In Black Hawk, September 3rd, 1897, to the wife of Robert Hattie, a daughter.

Born: In Central City, September 9th, 1897, to the wife of W.R. Nicholas, a daughter.

Died: In Black Hawk, September 9th, 1897, John Snowberger, aged 20 years.

146 years ago – August 26, 1872

Nevadaville, on Wednesday evening, was the scene of an interesting occurrence. A fact worthy of notice in our neighboring town of Nevada is the strict enforcement of the town ordinance relating to dogs, and woe to the canine that has not the “town brand,” T.P. on his collar. On this particular occasion a party refused to pay the assessment of three dollars levied on a certain canine by keeping it tied up in the back yard. This particular night he broke loose, and in his meanderings up and down the main street of Nevada, was accosted by officer Thomas, who took him in charge and was on the way to that part of Nevada technically known as “dog heaven,” when the better half of the owner picked up a rock and was making some warlike demonstrations, when she was joined by her knight of St. Crispin, armed with a boot tree, shoe pegs, etc., and made some show of war. When reminded that he made the county richer by some hundreds of dollars and few weeks ago by resisting an officer, he withdrew and soon after was followed by his wife. Having failed to get her dog by force she called in Mr. Clark, one of the town trustees, and asked him what was to be done. He promptly told her that she must pay her dog tax or suffer the pangs of bereavement. In short, she paid her dog tax, an example that ought to be followed all over the county, else Constable Thomas of Nevada will take the matter in hand and either kill the cur or collect a revenue for the county.

A workman in the Hidden Treasure Mine, on the California Lode, yesterday met with an accident, which, but for the timely assistance of a fellow workman would have resulted in his death. In the first place he masked his little finger, which was tied up, and the usual mining remedy, a quid of tobacco applied. Feeling quite faint, he determined to go up. Stepping into the bucket he rang the signal, and proceeded twenty or thirty feet, when he fainted, fell out, and hung by one leg. Unconscious of his position, he was hoisted a few feet higher by his fellow workmen, and was caught under or by the “wall plate” and terribly, though not fatally, injured. His comrade, attracted by the noise of the grating of the bucket on the slide, came out and released the unfortunate man from his perilous position.

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