Reprints: 1913 – A brief History of the Northern Coal Field in Boulder and Weld Counties, Colorado

SINCE the inauguration of the present strike in the coal mines of Northern Colorado, now in progress three years?, we have heard and read, from time to time, the harangues of professional agitators (and others) portraying the tyranny of the rich coal barons who have waxed fat at the crib of corporate greed in the north, and so persistent has such bitter criticism and false representation been herald abroad, that seemingly, the general public has accepted the same to be more-or-less true. But, to nurse the belief that coal operators in the Northern Coal District have made money, is far from the true facts, as the following brief review of thirty years history of the lignite coal industry and the numerous business failures of those engaged therein, will show.

In 1880 lignite coal for local and winter markets was mined in Boulder County at Marshall, Langford and Louisville; and in Weld County at Erie and in its vicinity. The more prominent producing mines in the early eighties were the Welch Mines at Louisville; Fox and Patterson Mine at Marshall, and the Boulder Valley, Northrup and Mitchell Collieries at Erie.

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The Overland and Denver-to-Cheyenne stagecoach lines utilized major pre-Lafayette transportation corridors

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.

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Lafayette’s connection to the “Champion of Silver” and the 1891 Silver Brick Case

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.

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Mary Miller’s temperance beliefs influenced Lafayette’s street names

Mary Miller’s 1888 town of Lafayette plat featured 8 streets laid out on 37 acres.

When town founder Mary Miller attached street names to her newly-created Town of Lafayette, she did so in pairs and in an anti-alcohol state of mind. Her initial 37-acre, 1888 platting of the town featured eight streets that were named for family relations and temperance allies John B. Foote and John H. Simpson; famous temperance movement leaders John B. Gough and John B. Finch; cities she was fond of including Geneseo, N.Y. and Cleveland, Ohio; plus two states, Iowa and Michigan.

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