Lafayette’s underground avenues

Broadway, the underground haulageway for the Simpson Mine in Lafayette, Colo., ran north-south as shown on this progress map. This area of underground passageways was about 240 feet below the surface in about the 400 block of East Elm Street.

Lafayette’s dirt streets circa 1910 didn’t see a lot of traffic. Although trains ran daily between Lafayette and Denver, local travel was primarily via horse and buggy, and only a handful of households could afford a Ford Model T. Residents getting around on bicycles had an ally in the Arc Light Bicycle Shop in 400 block of East Simpson, and horse hitching posts fronted almost every commercial establishment.

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Notable Citizens: Lito Gallegos

Inventor and mine foreman Lito Gallegos. Photo courtesy Tanya Fabian.

With lunch pail in hand and ready for his shift in the Columbine mine northeast of Lafayette, coal miner, inventor and Serene coal camp resident Lito Gallegos began the day by dropping his 7-year-old son from his first marriage, Gilbert, at the three-room Serene school. The two walked down the hill along John J. Roche Street, turned right on George T. Peart Street, then walked another half block north along Harry M. Jones Street to the school’s front door.

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Notable Citizens: Elizabeth Beranek

Elizabeth Beranek, about 1942. Photo courtesy the Beranek Family.

Mrs. Beranek could be described as a hardy soul. Mother of 17 children, Elizabeth Beranek (1884-1956) was a shining example of self-sufficiency reflected in early Lafayette households. She was a staunch supporter of workers’ rights, and risked her life to ensure that area coal miners received fair wages.

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1900 fire destroyed 15 structures in downtown Lafayette

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, founded in 1872. 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 Jan. 25, 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.

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Notable Citizens: Edward L. Doyle

Circa 1915 photo of Frank J. Hayes, miner and President of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA); Edward L. Doyle who was Secretary Treasurer of District 15 of the UMWA and James Revell Lord, miner and union official. From the Library of Congress.

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.

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