Lafayette’s first decade after its 1889 incorporation was fairly uneventful, at least according to town board meeting minutes. The board concentrated on acquiring a reliable water supply for the town, first sinking an artesian well in the northeast corner of town, then securing water rights from the Davidson Ditch Company. Two reservoirs were built to retain the ditch water and were located at the intersection of today’s Baseline Road and U.S. 287. One lake acted as a settling lake and (cleaner) water was directed into that second lake. Water from that lake flowed through a primitive filter connected to wood pipes and was used primarily for irrigation and to charge Old Town fire hydrants rather than for drinking.
The 1900 fire that destroyed 13 commercial buildings and two homes along two sides of the 400 block of E. Simpson Street didn’t garner much mention in Lafayette Town Board minutes. Town board members were more concerned about a repayment demand from the Louisville Hook & Ladder Company, who helped battle the Simpson Street fire. The Louisville crew wanted $100 for a hose burned in the fire, but eventually accepted a $60 settlement.
Edward Lawrence Doyle (1886-1954), Lafayette resident from 1908 to 1912 and United Mine Workers of America Dist. 15 Secretary Treasurer based in Denver from 1912 to 1917, is better known for his involvement in the fateful 1914 Ludlow Massacre, where he played a key role in communicating to national media the union’s perspective of the killings.
From 1862 until 1870, settlers dotting the prairie north of Denver and along Colorado’s Front Range were treated to a technological marvel known as the stagecoach. At the time, witnessing a bright red Abbot Downing Concord Coach gliding over the open grasslands with a driver at the reins, a messenger by his side guarding the strong box, and up to 12 passengers being pulled by six powerful horses was akin to witnessing the Orient Express chug its way out of the Constantinople train station.
Interests vying for low-priced public lands in the 1860s, including land that would eventually become Lafayette, could be classified into three categories: Settlers seeking opportunity, railroad companies seeking right-of-way, and speculators desiring to exploit minerals.
Area settlers and experienced farmers such as Adolf Waneka, Hiram Prince, James B. Foote and Mary and Lafayette Miller comprised the first category. The second category was dominated by the Union Pacific railroad company which, between 1864 and 1902, patented over 6,000 acres of public land in and near Louisville and Lafayette.
The third category, those interested in the minerals laying below the surface, included coal speculators Francis P. Heatley and Edward Chase, who ran a billiard hall on Blake Street in Denver. Heatley and Chase owned the land where Old Town Lafayette sits, which they sold to town founder Mary Miller and her husband, Lafayette, in 1868.