Copyright © 2008 - 2013 by Andrew J. Morris
A generation which ignores history has no past -- and no future.
History of Colorado
Select a County:
Black Canyon CO ca 1880
15% - 35% off all Products » The Ready Store
Local History Notes:
Coal Mining in Colorado
Coal was first mined in northern Colorado in the year 1864, in Jefferson and
Boulder counties. This mining was carried out in a superficial manner by the
settlers and the coal, obtained from the outcroppings, was used only for
domestic purposes, little or no marketing occurring. In 1872 coal was mined in Weld
County for the first time and in the following year Las Animas and Fremont
counties became known as coal producers. The two latter counties, one of which
is now the greatest coal-producing county of the state, produced 12,187 short
tons together in the year 1873. Not until 1876 did Colorado produce as much as
100,000 tons, but from this time until the present the annual production has
grown steadily, until now the state ranks seventh in the country as a
The largest of these companies at this time was the Colorado Coal & Iron Company, with headquarters at South Pueblo, and in control of mines in Fremont, Las Animas, Huerfano and Gunnison counties, also owning practically all the coking veins in the state. The Union Coal Company owned mines mainly in northern Colorado. The Colorado Fuel Company had no productive mines, but consumed the greater part of the product of the Cameron and Walsen mines belonging to the Colorado Coal & Iron Company. The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe controlled the Trinidad mines in Las Animas County and the Caiion mines in Fremont County. The Denver & New Orleans owned mines at Franceville in El Paso County. The Denver, Utah & Pacific operated the Mitchell mine in Weld County.
During the year 1885 one new coal field only was opened in Colorado; this was the Cimarron, or Cutler, field. No new mines were started.
The greater development of the Colorado coal fields began in the year 1886. The mines in the southeastern part of the state were greatly increased, in order to accommodate the demand from western Kansas and Nebraska. The greatest amount of new work, however, was done in the Glenwood field, west of Pitkin and the Continental Divide. Large discoveries of coking coal were made in Gunnison County, on Ohio Creek, also of anthracite southwest of Hahns Peak in Routt County. Work upon the coal beds in Routt, Garfield and Pitkin counties was hastened, owing, in great measure, to the railroad activities in that direction.
The year 1887 was another period of great activity, featured by the development of the Glenwood field and the opening of mines in the Yampa field in Routt County. Railway connection was made during the latter part of the year by the Denver & Rio Grande and the Colorado Midland. In Fremont County two large new mines were opened in the interest of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe, and in Las Animas County, near Trinidad, the Denver Fuel Company and the Denver, Texas & Fort Worth Railroad Company opened new mines. Coking also prospered in the state during this year.
Eighteen hundred and eighty-eight was a year of increased production, particularly in the Glenwood lield, also the growing demand for fuel taxed the Trinidad field to the utmost. Boulder County ranked third in productiveness among the Colorado civil divisions. While the coal field here was inferior to those in the southern and western sections, the proximity to Denver and ample railway facilities caused a great demand for the product. The Douglas mine in Douglas County, opened in 1886, produced very little this year and was not considered a success. Huerfano County was actively developed during 1888. The completion of the Missouri Pacific and the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific railways to Pueblo and Denver and the consequent opening of large and prosperous markets in Kansas and Nebraska brought about the purchase and development of many mines in this county hitherto considered valueless. The largest new product came from the Colorado Fuel Company, which bought and opened the Rouse mine. At Loma, three miles from Walsenburg, the South Colorado Coal Company opened new mines.
In Las Animas there was an increase of 40 per cent in production. This was entirely due to new mines. The Chicosa mine was opened by the Trinidad Fuel Company on Chicosa Creek, twelve miles north of Trinidad, with the purpose of supplying the Texas markets. The Sopris, largest of the new mines, was owned by the Denver Fuel Company. The Valley mine was opened in this year by the Raton Coal and Coking Company, also the Gray Creek mine by the Colorado Coal & Iron Company. Garfield County was the scene of great coal industrial activity in 1888 and all the mines along the Roaring Fork of Grand River were operated by the Grand River Coal and Coking Company of Glenwood Springs.
The mines of Colorado in 1888, their location, ownership and character of product, are shown by the following list, as compiled by the U. S. Geological Survey:
Name of Mine Location, Owner and Character of Coal
In 1891 Las Animas County ranked first in Colorado as a coal producer, followed in order by Fremont, Boulder and Huerfano counties. The coal-producing counties of the state were at this time generally spoken of as being in four divisions, the north, central, south and west. In the first of these classifications were the counties of Arapahoe, Boulder, Jefiferson, Larimer, Routt and Weld; in the second were the counties of Douglas, El Paso, Fremont and Park; in the third were Dolores, Huerfano, La Plata and Las Animas; and in the fourth occurred Delta, Garfield, Gunnison, Mesa, Montezuma, Pitkin, Rio Blanco and San Miguel.
Notwithstanding the shock which many of the industrial concerns of Colorado sustained by reason of legislation adverse to the silver interests in 1893, in addition to the widespread business depression, the coal mining industry not only held its own, in amount of coal produced, but far surpassed any previous year. In this year Colorado stood sixth in the list of coal-producing states, having superseded Iowa in 1892. On account of the closing down of many silver smelters in the west, a very important market for Colorado coal was thereby shut off and the operators were compelled to seek other markets. Texas was already a consumer of considerable importance, but not being satisfied with this alone, the Colorado product had been shipped by operators as far as Shreveport, Louisiana, coming into competition with Alabama coal as already was the case with Indian Territory coal in Texas.
In 1896 Colorado occupied tenth place in the states producing coal. In this year occurred one of the worst accidents in the history of Colorado coal mining. On February 18th a terrible explosion and fire occurred at the Vulcan mine, near New Castle, in Garfield County, in which fifty lives were lost. The force of the explosion was such that the buildings and trestle at the mouth of the slope were completely wrecked, a hole one hundred feet square carved out of the hillside at the mouth of the incline, while timbers two feet square were blown into the ground and river four hundred feet away. One miner was on his way down the slope when the explosion occurred and his mangled remains were found several hundred feet distant. There were 140 men employed in and about the mine at the time, and the mine itself had just recently been pronounced in good condition by the state coal inspector. Investigation was made and the cause determined to be a high-lighted fuse which ignited gas in one of the new rooms, while the men were blasting down coal. Another theory was that the explosion was caused by a small shot put in to open a chute which had become clogged. This mine was operated at the time by the Colorado Fuel & Iron Company.
In 1900, with an increased production of 468,140 short tons over 1899, Colorado attained a production exceeding five million short tons for the first time in her history. This increase placed Colorado well ahead of the coal producing states west of the Mississippi and also advanced the state from ninth to eighth place in the national list. In 1901 Colorado ranked seventh. The development of the iron industry brought about a relative increase in coal production, particularly in the vicinity of Colorado Springs.
In 1903 Colorado ranked eighth among the states. Labor troubles were rife in this vear and the state, with Alabama, bore half of the total labor disturbances of the entire country. The same troubles were in evidence in 1904 and the total time lost was greater, although not so many men were on strike.
Colorado's production in 1905 exceeded any previous record in the history of the state. More than half of the increase was due to the growing iron industry. In 1906 the Yampa field first began to attract attention. This field was located in the Yampa Valley, below Steamboat Springs.
The main features of the coal mining industry in Colorado during the year 1907 were a general growth in prosperity and unusual activity in new mining improvements, such as ventilation, and the installation of fans and air-shafts.
From: History of Colorado edited by Wilbur Fiske Stone, 1918
Biographical Sketch of Albert Washington McIntyre
Albert Washington McIntyre, governor of Colorado, was born in Pittsburg, Pa., Jan. 15, 1853; son of Joseph Phillips and Isabella A. (Wills) McIntyre, and grandson of Thomas McIntyre, who was engaged in the transportation business in Maryland and served as an officer of volunteers in the war of 1812. His first ancestor in America came from Ayreshire, Scotland, about 1745. Albert W. McIntyre was graduated from Yale, A.B., 1873, LL.B., 1875, and was admitted to the Connecticut bar in June, 1875, and to the Pittsburg bar, November, 1875. He removed to Conejos county, Col., in December, 1876, where he practised law. He established a stock ranch in the San Luis valley in 1880. He was judge of the county court, 1883-86, and adjudicator of the water rights of the 20th Colorado district, 1889-91. He was district judge of the 12th judicial district of Colorado, 1891-95, and was Republican governor of Colorado, 1895-97. At the close of his gubernatorial term he devoted himself to the development of his gold-mining interests and to the breeding of fine stock. He was married, July 16, 1873, to Florence, daughter of William Sydney Johnson, of New York city; and secondly, Jan. 26, 1899, to Dr. Ida Noyes Beaver.
Benjamin Harrison Eaton Biography
Benjamin Harrison Eaton, governor of Colorado, was born in Coshocton county, Ohio, Dec. 15, 1833; son of Levi Eaton. He was graduated from West Bethford academy in 1852 and taught school until 1854 when he removed to Louisa county, Iowa. He engaged in mining in Colorado, 1859-61; resided in New Mexico, 1861-64, and in 1864 removed to Greeley, Col., where he became one of the most prosperous farmers in the state, winning his success chiefly through a system of irrigation. He served in both branches of the state legislature and was elected governor of Colorado in November, 1884, by a majority of 3132 votes over Alva Adams, Democrat, serving, 1885-86.
A Biography of John Evans
John Evans, governor of Colorado, was born near Waynesville. Ohio, March 9, 1814; son of David and Rachel Evans; grandson of Benjamin and Hannah (Smith) Evans, and great-grandson of an early Quaker settler of Philadelphia. He removed to Philadelphia in 1835 and entered. Clermont academy. He received his M.D. degree in 1838 from the medical department of Cincinnati college. In 1839 he was married to Hannah, daughter of Joseph Canby, and removed to Attica, Ind. He resided in Indianapolis, Ind., 1842-45. He held the chair of materia medica in the Rush medical college, Chicago, Ill., 1845-56, and later edited the Northwestern Medical and Surgical Journal of Chicago. He founded the Illinois general hospital of the Lakes, and was prominent in establishing the Methodist book concern in Chicago. He was the chief instrument in founding the Northwestern university, in a suburb of Chicago which was named Evanston in his honor. and he endowed the chairs of Latin and mental and moral philosophy in that institution with $100,000. He was a delegate to the Republican national convention in 1860, and in 1862 was appointed territorial governor of Colorado, serving until 1865, when he was removed by President Johnson. In 1863 he was influential in building Colorado seminary, which afterward became the University of Denver, and to which he presented about $150,000. He was organizer and president of several railroad companies and other enterprises. He was married in 1853 to Margaret P., daughter of Samuel Gray of Maine, and their daughter Josephine became the wife of Gov. Samuel Hitt Elbert of Colorado. Governor Evans died in Denver, Col., July 3, 1897.
Frederick Walker Pitkin Biographical Sketch
Frederick Walker Pitkin, governor of Colorado, was born in Manchester, Conn., Aug. 31, 1837; son of Eli and Hannah M. (Torrey) Pitkin; grandson of Eleazur and Mehitabel (Cone) Pitkin, and a descendant of William and Hannah (Goodwin) Pitkin. William Pitkin came from London, England, to Hartford, Conn., in 1659, where he was a school teacher, and also attorney general, treasurer of the colony, and member of the Colonial assembly and council. Frederick W. Pitkin was graduated at Wesleyan university, Conn., in 1858, and at the Albany law school in 1859, and was admitted to the bar in 1859. He was married to Fidelia M., daughter of John James of Lockport, N.Y., and in 1860 settled in practice in Milwaukee., Wis. He visited Europe, spent the winter of 1873 in Florida in quest of health, and from 1874 to 1878 camped in the mountains of southern Colorado, and engaged in mining. He began practice in Denver, Col., in 1877; was Republican governor of Colorado for two terms, 1878-82, and during his administration quelled the uprising of the Ute Indians at White river, and the riots of the miners at Leadville. He was defeated as candidate for the U.S. senate in 1883. The county and town of Pitkin, Col., were named in his honor. He died in Pueblo, Col., Dec. 18, 1886.
Local History and Genealogy Links: