Trains on the West Slope

Attached are a couple of history columns I’ve written recently about the Denver & Rio Grande Railway’s work in the 1880s to cross the Western Slope and eventually connect all the way to Salt Lake City.

Motezuma engine 1871

This photo, from 1871, shows the Montezuma 1, believed to be the first locomotive in the D&RG’s narrow-gauge line.

The first column is about the work of the D&RG to push over Marshall Pass and through the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. The second column concerns the continuing work to reach Grand Junction and connect with the Denver & Rio Grande Western to make it to Salt Lake City.

D&RG I 01-13-20

D&RG in GJ 1-27-19

Fur Trade presentation

I’ll present classes on fur trade history for New Dimensions in Grand Junction, Feb. 12, Feb. 19.


The first class will be more general, looking at the fur trade across the Continent over hundreds of years. It will use a great deal of information from my forthcoming book, The Cadottes: A Fur Trade Family on Lake Superior.

The second class will look at one of the most important fur traders to operate in Colorado and Utah, Antoine Robidoux.

Both classes will be held in the Unitarian Universalist Church in downtown Grand Junction beginning at 10 a.m. and they will last approximately one hour.

More information about New Dimension classes, and registration information for theses and other classes is expected to be available early next week at

Comanche migration

The Comanche Indians are believed to have migrated from northwestern Colorado/southern Wyoming to the Southern Great Plains late in the 17th century. And some likely did so through Western Colorado.

Comanche Horsemen
George Catlin produced this painting in the 1830s, showing the skill of Comanche horsemen

However, archaeologists and historians are still trying to determine exactly how and when the migration occurred.

I discussed some of the most recent research in the history column here.

Comanche move 12-30-19

Dr. Eldridge was a physician, poet and novelist

Dr. E.F Eldridge was an early Grand Junction physician who wrote poetry and novels, and was a consummate booster of Colorado’s Western Slope.


He is a little known character now among the pantheon of Grand Junction’s founders, but deserves to be remembered for his work, both literary and professional.

Here’s a link to the article I wrote about him in The Daily Sentinel recently.

Dr. Eldridge 12-2-19

The Cadottes

This is my latest book, which will be published by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press in May. Cadotte coverI’ve been working on the book for more than five years and I’m thrilled that we’re finally nearing publication.

Those people interested in preordering the book can do so through independent bookstores such as Grand Valley Books and Out West Books in Grand Junction and Lithic Books in Fruita.

Here is a link to an Independent Booksellers site to find other book stores if you’re not in the Grand Junction/Fruita area.

Independent booksellers website

People can also preorder it through Amazon.




Tom Horn in Colorado

Tom Horn was hanged in Cheyenne, Wyoming, on Nov. 20, 1903, for the murder of a teenager in Wyoming.


But before that occurred, he spent a considerable amount of time in Colorado, both as a hired assassin for large cattle companies, and as a lawman in pursuit of outlaws.

Here is the link to my column about Horn that appeared in The Daily Sentinel this week.

Tom Horn 11-18-19.


Surveying the West

Below are links to two history columns I’ve written recently regarding the Hayden Survey and its importance to the West in general and Colorado in particular.


The first photo is of some members of the Hayden Survey in Colorado in 1874. The second is a drawing of the Little Bookcliffs near Grand Junction, from the Survey’s 1876 report.

US Geological Survey of the Territories Field Party in Colorado, 1874BookCliffs-lg

Hayden1 10-7-19

Hayden2 11-21-19

It’s Harvest Time!

From peaches to potatoes, important crops are being harvested across western Colorado, and harvesting will continue through late autumn. So, I thought I’d write a couple of history columns about crops that were important to this region historically.

Harvesting sugar beets in Mesa County, early 20th Century. Photo courtesy of the Museums of Western Colorado.

The first column is about sugar beets, which were a significant cash crop in the area for many decades, until Holly Sugar closed its last sugar plant on the Western Slope, in Delta, in the 1970s.

The second column is about potatoes, which remain an important crop today in parts of western Colorado and especially, the San Luis Valley, This item is about the mobile education system used to train farmers early in the 20th century in the art of growing potatoes.

White Gold 8-26-19

Potato Train 9-9-19

From Kid Blackie to Manassa Mauler

Jack Dempsey, the long-time heavyweight boxing champion, won his title 100 years ago this week. But long before that fight in Toledo, Ohio, Dempsey lived, worked and fought across much of western Colorado.

Kid Blackie

Above is the cover of a book that came out in the 1980s, which provides a detailed history of Dempsey’s time in Colorado. Below is a link to my history column about Jack Dempsey.

Dempsey 7-1-19