Buffalo Soldiers on Bikes

A fascinating bit of U.S. Army history — when the Army experimented with a bicycle corps, and made Buffalo Soldiers the heart of the experiment.

bikes at Yellowstone

 

These are some of the soldiers on one of their first extended rides, from Fort Missoula, Montana to Yellowstone National Park in 1896.

And here’s a link to my history column that appeared in The Daily Sentinel on Monday.

Army bike corps

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Lost Indian remains

In 1969, the Historical Museum in Grand Junction secured the remains of an ancient Indian with the assistance of students at Grand Junction High School.

 

That set of remains, described at the time as an Indian mummy, has been missing for nearly 50 years. The body was briefly displayed at the museum, then disappeared.

Erin with news

This is a photo of Erin Schmitz, currently the curator of archives and collections at the Museums of Western Colorado, who is attempting to track down the remains. She’s holding a Daily Sentinel news story from 1969.

Here is a link to my history column, which ran in The Daily Sentinel Monday, regarding the missing body.

Mystery mummy 10-22-18

Spanish flu struck a century ago

One hundred years ago, the inaptly named Spanish Flu (it didn’t originate in Spain) struck the world with a vengeance, and western Colorado was not spared.

 

My history column this week for The Daily Sentinel explores how that impacted our community and others in Colorado.

Here’s a link to that column:

Flu 10-8-18

influenza ward Walter Reed

This photo, from the Library of Congress, shows A nurse helping patients at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C., during the 1918 flu epidemic.

Speaking in Olathe

Judy and I are off to Olathe today, where I am making a presentation before the Montrose County Historical Society.

Montrose meet

I’ll talk about the history of the Colorado Plateau and the importance of preserving links to our history. The historical society is trying to raise funds to protect some of its larger artifacts. I may also try to sell a few books while I’m there.

Meanwhile, here’s a link to my latest history column for The Daily Sentinel, about trying to locate where Dominguez and Escalante camped when they stopped near Collbran 242 years ago.

Santa Rosalia 9-24-18

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