Lost Lafayette, Colorado is available for pre-order and is an update to Doug Conarroe’s “80026” coffee table book and contains new chapters on Lafayette’s dark decade dominated by the Ku Klux Klan. There’s also new details about Lafayette’s irrigation and water history. The well-researched book is Lafayette’s complete history from the 1820s through the 1930s. Find it at Arcadia Press.
History can sometimes be very messy, with dark chapters that take decades to sort out. Lafayette’s history is no exception.
Recent discoveries related to the Ku Klux Klan activities of town founder Mary Miller’s descendants have so sullied her legacy — and the Miller name — to the point that it should not be used to recognize anything — a street, a neighborhood or a housing development.
One of the most hazardous vocations on record, early coal mining was nothing more than men with picks undercutting hundreds of feet of rock to extract a narrow seam of coal. The room-and-pillar system for removing coal was highly productive, but very dangerous. Some coal was left in place to support the rock layers, and thousands of wood timbers were used to brace the rock above the voids so that the coal could be loaded. Dislodging the coal involved a miner bringing his own keg of black powder into the mine, which when packed into drilled holes could detonate prematurely or not at all. Miners worked separate rooms sometimes miles from the main shaft, which meant little supervision. Add to this the pay-per-ton wages wherein a miner often overlooked his own safety so that as much coal as possible could be loaded.
What could possibly go wrong?
The summer of 1926 featured a fierce battle between Longmont and Boulder over the tourist trade.
That summer, the route of the future Highway 287 north from Lafayette was being firmed up by Colorado transportation officials, who wanted to change the previous Lincoln Highway route out of Lafayette. At the time, the Lincoln Highway followed today’s 111th Avenue next to the Lafayette Cemetery. In 1913, the 111th route was designated a part of the transcontinental Lincoln Highway, but all segments of the Colorado loop were delisted in 1915 by the Lincoln Highway Association. For several decades after that, locals still referred to the road as the Lincoln Highway.