Grand Mesa Vacation

In the last years of the 19th century, the Colorado Midland Railway offered a mountain getaway on Grand Mesa in conjunction with Grand Mesa Lakes Resort.

GM Lakes p5
This photo shows Eggleston Lake on Grand Mesa, as pictured in a 19th century Colorado Midland Railway brochure

But getting there was no quick jaunt. From Denver, one took the train south to Colorado Springs, then northwest to Leadville, through a tunnel under the Continental Divide, then down river valleys to the small town of De Beque, east of Grand Junction. Then it was a stagecoach trip, with a stop in Plateau City, before reaching the top of Grand Mesa.

Here’s the history column I wrote for The Daily Sentinel about the vacation package.

Midland GM tour 9-10-18



Another book project

I had great news this month when I signed a contract with the Wisconsin Historical Society Press to publish my book on the fur trade around Lake Superior.

Tentatively called “The Cadottes of Lake Superior: One Family’s Journey through the Fur-Trade Era,” the book traces a family of part French-Canadian and part Ojibwe traders who were involved in the fur trade around Lake Superior through five generations and over nearly 200 years. It focuses on a couple who lived and traded on Madeline Island, near present-day Bayfield, Wisconsin.

I’ve been doing research on the project for almost a decade, and have written several versions of the manuscript. No doubt more versions will be required. But I’m very excited about this.

cave rock

The illustration here is from an 1826 book about a tour of Lake Superior, by the U..S. Indian commissioner at the time, a man named Thomas McKenney, who visited the Cadottes at Madeline Island. The caves in the drawing look very much like those near Madeline Island.

No publication date for the book, yet. But not before spring, 2020.

On the road with Buffalo Bill

We just returned from two weeks of travel to Wisconsin, visiting family and seeing some sights.

And, while I wasn’t actually on the road with William Cody, better known as Buffalo Bill, I did have this book with me to read.

It’s a fascinating, and sometimes highly speculative, look at one of the premier showmen and Western legends of the late 19th and early 20th century.

I’m using the book as part of my research for my next history column for The Daily Sentinel, about Buffalo Bill bringing his Wild West Show to Grand Junction in 1908. The column should run on Aug. 27.Buff Bill book

Devil Dogs — U.S. Marines in WWI

As we approach Armistice Day for “The War to End All Wars” — which, unfortunately, it didn’t — it’s worth remembering some of the efforts of the United States military during the war.

Although we arrived late to the war in Europe, our Army and Marines, under the command of General “Black Jack” Pershing, definitely turned the tide.

Here’s a link to a fascinating story about how U.S. Marines became known as “Devil Dogs” to the Germans.

Devil Dogs

Bucolic Buford

We just returned from spending a week at Buford, east of Meeker on the White River.

It’s one of our favorite spots in Colorado, offering great mountain scenery, access to the Flat Tops and surrounding areas, and a cool getaway from the heat of the Grand Valley in the summer.

Buford 1

That’s owners Tom and Dianne Tucker outside the old Buford store, which has been closed for a number of years. But the Tuckers still rent out the old cabins near the store, and maintain a small RV park on their property, right along the White River.

I’ll have more on the history of Buford in my next column. Meanwhile, below is a link to my Palisade peach column, and the valuable effects of the Bookcliffs on the peach industry.

Also, I’m starting to build an archive of my past history columns from The Daily Sentinel. Go to “My History Columns” in the menu at the top of this page. I only have 2013 columns posted so far, but will continue working to get subsequent years posted.

Palisade peaches 7-16-18

Timeless Mount Garfield

It’s always fun to try to track down the location from which old photos were shot. Judy and I did that this past weekend.

The old photo was published in The Denver Post in a 1909 article about Palisade. The new photo was taken July 7, 2018, about a half mile from our home near Palisade. We drove around the east end of the Grand Valley, taking photos of Mount Garfield from a variety of locations. This one seemed to match up best with the Denver Post photo from 109 years ago. The shadow to the right behind Mount Garfield appears to be from scotch tape that held the old newspaper together.

Thanks to Wanda Beebe for providing the fascinating article to me.

Both photos will be used in my next history column about Palisade peach country, to be published in The Daily Sentinel on July 16.Garfield combo

Sheriff Shores on the Trail

I’ve written a good number of history columns about outlaws in western Colorado and eastern Utah, and they all produce lots of reader responses.

Doc Shores

My next column will focus instead on one of the most important lawmen in the history of this region — Cyrus “Doc” Shores. And it will detail one of his most notable efforts to track down criminals in the wake of a train robbery near Grand Junction in 1887.

At the time, Wells was the Gunnison County sheriff. Later he would be a special investigator for several different railroads, and later still, he would become the Salt Lake City police chief.

The article will appear in The Daily Sentinel on Monday, July 2. A few days later, I will post it here.

Off to Meeker

I’m heading to Meeker tomorrow, working with David Bailey, Curator of History at the Museums of Western Colorado, conducting a tour of some of the sites important in the events of 1879.

Those events have traditionally been referred to as “The Milk Creek Battle” and “The Meeker Massacre,” although the latter term is not very accurate. I have avoided using it as much as possible.bookcover
We’ll be following the events detailed in my previous book, “Troubled Trails: The Meeker Affair and the Expulsion of Utes from Colorado.” Additionally, my friends Joy and Jonas Grant, Ute Indians from Fort Duchesne, Utah, will be joining us for part of the trip. Jonas is directly descended from some of the Ute leaders involved in the 1879 events.
As I understand it, there are expected to be 17 people joining us on the trip. We’ll visit a half-dozen sites over the two days, and spend the night in the Meeker Hotel. It should be a lot of fun.
Oh, and I might try to sell a few copies of my new book while I have a captive audience.