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.
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.
The year 2000 has gotten a lot of press because of that millennium thing. It’s a big deal, I know, but the past few weeks have caused me to turn the clock back and dwell on the first few years of this century. 1904 to be exact.
As many of you know, I enjoy renovating houses as a hobby. The older the better, not only for the architectural character but the hidden history. While tearing apart walls in some of the older homes, I’ve found all kinds of tidbits about a building’s history and the people that lived in it. Everyday objects like postcards and letters are common. I’ve always hoped to find a forgotten stash of hard-earned money, but, at least for me, the treasure has proved elusive.
Conceived in 1913 as a direct motor route between the West Coast and the East Coast, the Lincoln Highway became the first cross-country roadway. At conception, the road traversed California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. A designation of an alternate route, or loop, from Cheyenne to Denver, then back up to Julesburg was also included in the initial route.
Lafayette was on the route of the Cheyenne to Denver leg, but in 1915 the Lincoln Highway Association formally withdrew sanction for the “Denver Loop.” Colorado’s Gov. Ammons protested the delisting, but the association prevailed.
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.