William Columbus Ferril.

Sketches of Colorado: being an analytical summary and biographical history of the State of Colorado as portrayed in the lives of the pioneers, the founders, the builders, the statesmen, and the promin online

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Online LibraryWilliam Columbus FerrilSketches of Colorado: being an analytical summary and biographical history of the State of Colorado as portrayed in the lives of the pioneers, the founders, the builders, the statesmen, and the promin → online text (page 1 of 42)
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Sketches of Colorado


Being An Analytical Summary and Biographical
History of the


As portrayed in the lives of the pioneers,
the founders, the builders, the states-
men, and the prominent and pro-
gressive citizens who helped
in the development and
history making of





The Western Press Bureau Company



Copyrighted by


Curator of the State Historieal atid Natural History Society of Colorado, 1S96-1910

and Secretary oj tlie Colorado Academy of Science, 1S9S-1909.




TO the pioneers of Colorado,
"Who Builded Better Than
They Knew'".



r^trlct fiilhcrciirr has been had in the publication of this
■ \ wiirh, to lis pninnrij purpose, namely, the production of aw
^"^ analytical summary, andbiographicalhistory of Colorado.
The history will be found to be ynore complete than any pre-
vious history so far published and, to better conserve the pur-
pose for which it has been prepared, it has been written in
narrative form. In every feature of the book, accuracy, above
all things else, has been striven for. In the biographical
sketches much historical data naturally appears. These
biographies have not been prepared ivith a view to praising
nor of inflicting adulation upon the subjects thereof, but
have been written in as concise and concrete form as was pos-
sible, and accuracy of detail has been the key note.

It is not claimed for this history that every detail in Colo-
riiilii's up-huihilntj liax twen covered therein, but all the
li'iiillnij (Dnl.s mill sidiiiil points relative to the progress of
flic sliitr arc pnsiiitiil. With regard to the first chapters
iif the history, treating of the period before the advent of man,
the deductions therein contained have been arrived at by ap-
plying scientific principles to that which has been previously
treated with in liistory, and the result thereof is set forth
as an ciit< rlniniiKj story. All of the facts which pertain to
the periods from mnl after the explorer's advent are authenti-
cated and succinctly stated in chronological order.


History of Colorado


Physical Features— The Colorado Islands of the Ancient Ocean.

HE history of Colorado be-
gins with the geological story
of a strip of land, or cluster
of islands, which comprised
an eastern group of the west-
ern archipelago of the old
Paleozoic Ocean of North
America. Linked with these
islands was land extending northward into
Wyoming, and also to the south, into New
Mexico. In the eastern part of the continent,
the Archaean rocks, the oldest known to
science, had been upheaved in the region of
the St. Lawrence river and the Great Lakes, in
a hook or V shaped form, exposing a large
area, one arm or branch of which extended
northeast into Labrador, and the other and
larger, bending northwest to the Arctic
Ocean. This land, also known as the Lauren-
tian Hills, is supposed by some to have been
the first to appear above the surface of the
great deep.

If not at the same time — and it is well to
remember that "Archaean" means "begin-
ning" — at least contemporary with these an-
cient islands from which Colorado was formed,
there had appeared in the east, also, other
islands corresponding with the Adirondacks
and the Appalachians; while to the west, was
another strip, or islands, along the line of the
present Sierra Nevadas. Between these is-
lands of the east, and those of the west, ex-
tended the Paleozoic Ocean, covering the
Mississippi valley, and the entire continent,
with the exception of the exposed surface de-
scribed. These primordial Colorado islands —
so named for convenience — extended more or
less in a line with the present continental
crest, and the waters of this old ocean, still
covered the site, where Denver now stands.

The Archaean time or age, the first in
geological history, was lifeless. It was with-
out flora or fauna, but, it has been claimed,
there was a diminutive form of life in the lat-
ter part of that age. Hence some would di-
vide the Archaean into two periods; first,
the Azoic, meaning without life; second, the

Eozoic, thus named for the eozoon, the "dawn
animal," although some deny that it had or-
ganic structure. The Paleozoic time or age,
which followed the Archaean, begins the au-
thentic "life story" as told in the rocks. It
is divided into the Cambrian and Silurian, the
age of invertebrates, the Cambrian being more
transitional in character; the Devonian, the
third period, the age of Fishes; and, the
fourth and last, the Carboniferous, or the age
of Coal Plants.

Now, apply this geological condition to
these ancient Colorado islands, already de-
scribed as they appeared on the earth's sur-
face, at the opening of the Paleozoic age.
They were simply islands of Archaean rock,
which consisted of granite, quartzites, gneisses,
and those mostly of crystalline structure.
They were barren, desolate, lifeless. Proba-
bly there was little, if any sunlight, for it was
but the dawn, in the beginning. There was
no climate as now known, for continents had
not been formed, nor the great mountain
ranges upheaved. The atmosphere was hum-
id. Vapors, storm clouds and tempests, with
the torrential rains, shut out the sun's rays.
Warm or highly heated waters beat upon the
rock bound coast. Nothing lived to crawl,
creep, walk, or fly along its desolate shores.
There grew not a tree, plant, shrub, nor
flower. No fish nor living thing, glided
through the waters, nor even a seaweed floated
in its eddies. Nothing died — there was no
life. This was the beginning of Colorado in
that ancient ocean — probably millions of
years ago. It was a lifeless sameness,
shrouded in gloom and darkness. Great
bodies of iron accompanied the archaean
rocks, and as the precious metals were stored
from that age, and until the Tertiary, the
foundation for our mining industry was laid
in those Colorado islands "of the long ago,"
but not until ages after, was coal, their hand-
maid in the industries of man, formed and
hid away for future use.

The Cambrian, Silurian, and Devonian
rocks, as found in Colorado, tell but little of

life during these first three periods of the
Paleozoic. But, from similar rocks, either
more advantageously or freely exposed, in
contiguous regions of the west, together with
the meager information afforded by the same
in Colorado, the story of the development of
life on these islands may be told with reason-
able assurance. There were the lowly and
humble beginnings of invertebrate and plant
life. Crustaceans and moUusks could now
be found. There were sponges, sea worms,
trilobites, star fish, and kindred forms. The
trilobites had eyes with which "to see" and
the sun's rays must have been piercing the
darkness of the waters for these new creatures.
It was the beginning of the now famous Colo-
rado sunshine. Animal life was aquatic,
but probably club mosses representee! land
plants. Such were conditions through the
Cambrian and the Silurian. With the De-
vonian, that followed, and known as the age
of Fishes, the life line is but dimly told in
Colorado, as the rocks of that age are but
little represented in this state. It was the
beginning of the vertebrates. It is reason-
able to suppose that fishes, covered with
bony scales and plates, and Devonian sharks,
infested these islands, with myriads of other
forms of animal life. Verdure had now come
to these once barren rocks. Ferns, conifer-
ous trees, and other forms of vegetation glad-
dened the lansdcape, the beginning of the
luxuriant growth of the Carboniferous age.
The rains, and unknown streams, had been
eroding and cutting. Detrition was aiding
botanical growth. Land was changing and
extending, and at times, these islands may
have been united, and then again separated
by straits. But during upheaval and subsi-
dence that came with the ages, it is not proba-
ble that all of the original masses first thrown
up, were ever submerged at one time, as
shown by the debris that has accumulated.
Colorado, once above the waves, had come
to stay.

The Carboniferous, the last of the Pale-
ozoic age, is more liberally represented in the
Colorado rocks, than the preceding periods.
There is a paucity of coal in the true coal
strata. The Cretaceous period which came
later, corresponds with the Carboniferous
age in the Appalachians in the east, for coal
making in the west. Nevertheless, during
the Carboniferous period, which was largely
marine in the west, the Colorado islands were
filled with swamps, and rank vegetation,
and there was some coal making. Reptiles
now appeared, and there were changes in
animal life, hitherto aquatic, to amphibious
and land species. The Devonian fishes had
foreshadowed the coming of reptilian life, and
the marshes of the Carboniferous age afforded

conditions most favorable to their develop-
ment and growth, but they did not reach
their culmination until a later age. This
period closed with the great plains of the west
still under water.

The Paleozoic was followed by the Meso-
zoic time or age, which is divided into three
periods; first, the Triassic; second, the Ju-
rassic; third, the Cretaceous. It was the
great age of reptiles, in the evolution of life.
Mesozoic means the "middle-life," as the
Paleozoic typified the "ancient life" of the
earth. These two ages or time epochs, were
followed by the Cenozoic, meaning "recent
life," culminating with man.

The Mesozoic age not only witnessed the
zenith of reptilian life but the marvelous de-
velopment of continent making in north
America. In the Triassic, the Appalachian
system, more commonly known as the Alle-
ghany Mountains, which had already been
slowly rising, was upheaved, and large areas
raised east of the Mississippi river. In the
Jurassic that followed, being the second per-
iod of the Mesozoic, the Sierra Nevadas were
thrown up. Great ranges on the Atlantic
and the Pacific slopes were born, but still
there were no Rocky Mountains. The Colo-
rado islands were still surrounded by an in-
land sea. It was in the latter part of the Cre-
taceous, which succeeded the Jurassic, and
in the Tertiary, the first period of the Ceno-
zoic, that the Rocky Mountains were up-
raised. As the Quatenary, or the Age of
Man followed the Tertiary, the Colorado
land remained as islands from that uncounted
and countless time, when the waves of the
Paleozoic Ocean washed its rocky, barren
shores, until within one period of the era when
man came. In a geological sense, the Colo-
rado islands had a maritime ambition. Had
it been realized? Let historians speculate
on the possible effect of her fleets, commerce,
and navies.

In the Triassic, reptiles continued their
marvelous development. In marshes and
shallow seas, they thrived, and dominated
the animal kingdom; reached their culmi-
nation in the Jurassic, and began to decline
and disappear in the Cretaceous. In the
Colorado islands there were some insects,
and mammals were represented by marsupials.
The monsters of the Mesozoic were the Dino-
saurs, their remains being especially abundant
in the exposed Jurassic of Colorado and
Wyoming. These huge, uncouth creatures,
the largest known to have existed on the earth,
herbivorous and carnivorous, were reptilian
beasts of enormous bulk, but with small
cranial capacity. It is reasonable to suppose
that similar terrible creatures of this age,
whose remains are found in Wyoming and

Kansas, and contiguous regions to Colorado,
were also associated with those monsters that
once lived in this state. No more wonder-
ful story of animal life is told by the rocks
than is here revealed by geology. The Cama-
rasaurus, a gigantic dinosaur, eighty feet long,
more than sixteen feet high at the hips,
weighing 90,000 pounds, obtained in southern
Wyoming, has been mounted and placed in
the Museum of Natural History, in New York
City. Another huge animal of this species,
130 feet long, and thirty feet high at the hips,
has been discovered. Colossal remains of
dinosaurs have been found especially in Colo-
rado and Wyoming. Strange and uncanny
creatures abounded. The Ichthyosaurus was
a lizard-fish thirty to forty feet long. There
was a Pterodactyl, a flying lizard, with bat-
like wings, that measured twenty-five feet
between the tips of the wings. The Moro-
saurus, with paddle appendages, was the
longest reptile known. There were monster
crocodiles, and turtles fifteen feet across.
Reptile birds were becoming more bird than
reptile. Huge devouring sharks, more than
100 feet long, lived in the waters of adjacent
seas. The Colorado islands were teeming
with life, and from the size and nature of the
wonderful and gigantic beasts, there must
have been a ferocious struggle for existence
on land, in the rivers, lakes and marshes, and
surrounding sea. Vegetation was beginning
to reveal more modern types. The "Red
Beds" of the Triassic are much used in Colo-
rado for building. They are of common occur-
ence, and form one of the attractive features
in the Garden of the Gods. The Cretaceous
period was especially bountiful in storing
away immense quantities of coal in this state.
The Cenozoic time or age, meaning "re-
cent life," the last of the grand geological
divisions, came next, and is divided into two
periods; first, the Tertiary; second the
Quaternary or Post-Tertiary in which man
made his appearance. In the Tertiary, the
Colorado islands became a part of the main
land, and the Rocky Mountains continued
their formation, during which many of the
rich fissure veins of the precious metals were
made in Colorado, adding their store to the
mineral wealth that had been accumulating
during the ages. The first division of the
Tertiary is known as the Eocene, meaning
"dawn" or "daybreak" plus "recent." That
is, the types of the animal and botanical
kingdoms were approximating those that ex-
ist at the present time; as the old Paleozoic
in its meaning, stood for the early or first
life oil the earth. During the Eocene, Colo-
rado abounded with great fresh water lakes.
There were dense forests. Had man then
lived in this region, it would have been a

sportsman's paradise, and down through the
Oligocene, Miocene, and Pliocene, the last
three of the four divisions of the Tertiary.
There was the Coryphodon, allied to the tapir
and rhinoceros, and of enormous bulk; the
Dinoceras of elephantine size, with three
pairs of horns on the head, and with power-
ful tusks curving downward and backward;
other huge beasts of tapir and . rhinoceros
like form; Tillodonts, known as the "gnawing
hogs," not hogs, but mammals with power-
ful incisors like the rodents; horses of the
earliest, and later, like the modern type;
the gigantic two-horned brototherium, a kins-
man of the tapir and rhinoceros; beavers,
making their first appearance; monkeys and
rodents; and a queer animal, the Oreodon,
related to the camel, deer and hog. In the
pliocene, the closing of the Tertiary, came the
first mastodon, and associated with it were
the elephant, rhinoceros, camel, horse, deer,
tiger, with others of the feline family, all near-
ing the present type of those that survived.
Wliile these animals roamed the plains, val-
leys and plateaus, or in the forests along the
rivers and lakes, the Rocky Mountains were,
at times, in violent eruption, and volcanoes
were belching forth their fiery fluids. These
animals either become inured to the terrible
convulsions which then must have shaken this
region, or lived terror stricken at the dangers
which threatened. The Florissant beds of
Colorado tell the story of the wonderful plant
and insect life that prevailed towards the
middle of the Tertiary.

Now comes the Quaternary — the age of
Man — with its three divisions; first, Glacial;
second, Champlain; third, Recent. The
mammoth, which had appeared a little earlier,
the rhinoceros, horse, and camel, all lived in
Colorado at the close of the Glacial, but be-
fore the second glacial, so called, they dis-
appeared and later other species took their
place. The Quaternary opens with the Gla-
cial Epoch, when the northern part of the
United States was invaded by a great ice
crust or glacier from the Arctic region. Mo-
raines, boulder drift, and other indications tell
the story of its work in Colorado. After the
ice age, and the changes in the Champlain,
and the Recent in the terrace making by the
rivers, Colorado was evolved as known to
man — but just as to when man appeared —
there are different opinions. Cope, Marsh,
and Le Conte, with others, have been promi-
nent in the study of the fossils of this region.

After the geological work of the ages, Colo-
rado now has the following physical features,
which, in their natural divisions are, moun-
tains, plateaus, and plains. The Rocky
Mountains, a part of the great Cordilleran
system, is composed of several ranges which

occupy the central or middle third of the state.
The Sawatch Range, with the waters of its
western slope flowing to the Pacific, and the
eastern, draining its waters to the Atlantic,
forms the Continental Crest or Divide in
Colorado, Extending northward from Sagua-
che county to the Mount of the Holy Cross,
it includes Mt. Elbert, 14,436 feet high, and
now said to be the highest mountain in Colo-
rado; Mt. Massive, near Leadville; Mt.
Shavano; the College Peaks — Princeton,
Harvard and Yale. The Front range, also
known as the Colorado Range, is the most
eastern, bordering on the edge of the great
plains. It extends from Wyoming, and
passes just west of Denver, reaching to the
Pikes Peak region, where are clustered Colo-
rado Springs, Colorado City, and Manitou,
and then to Cripple Creek. It has many
peaks reaching an elevation of more than
14,000 feet, and among them are those bear-
ing the historic names of Long, Gray, Evans,
Torrey, and Pike. The Park Range, west
of the Front Range, and running parallel
with the Sawatch from 15 to 20 miles east
of the latter, also enters Colorado from Wyo-
ming, reaching to the Arkansas Hills, a few
miles west of Cripple Creek. Bross, Lin-
coln, Sherman, Sheridan and other peaks of
this range, reach an elevation of more than
14,000 feet. The Sangre de Cristo Range
dividing the San Luis and Wet Mountain
Valleys, extends from the Arkansas river into
New Mexico. Sierra Blanca, once considered
the highest in Colorado, and Humbolt, and
Crestone are peaks of this mountain system
that exceed an altitude of 14,000 feet. The
Wet Mountains in Custer and Fremont coun-
ties are about 20 miles east of the Sangre de
Cristo. The San Juan Mountains, commonly
called the "Switzerland" of America, and
forming the southern part of the Continental
Crest, are situated in southwestern Colo-
rado. Railroads encircle these mountains,
thread their canons and reach timber line,
but here is a range, which the iron horse has
never crossed. Among the peaks of these
mountains over 14,000 feet, are Uncompahgre,
Eolus, Simpson, Red Cloud, Sneffles, Stewart
and San Luis. The San Miguel Mountains,
a near group of the San ,]uau, contain the
famous Lizard Head. The Elk Mountains,
the Medicine Bow, Snowy Range, Gore
Range, Rabbit Ear Range, La Plata Moun-

tains, Eagle River Mountains, and other
ranges are included in the Rocky Mountains,
that extend through Colorado. East of the
Front range, extend the Great Plains to the
borders of Kansas and Nebraska, while the
western part of the state, reaching to Utah,
is broken into plateaus, valleys, and hilly

The park systems of Colorado include
several of large area. The San Luis Park, one
of the largest, is known as the San Luis val-
ley. The North Park, in the northern part
of the state, lies between the Front and Park
ranges. South of it, encircled by mountain
ranges, is Middle Park. Below the latter,
in Park County, between Leadville and Crip-
ple Creek is situated South Park. Estes, a
smaller park, has many scenic attractions.
Egeria and Animas are also well known parks.

The principal rivers in Colorado, the
South Platte and the Arkansas, rising in the
mountains, and fed by numerous tributaries,
flow through the plains in the eastern part
of Colorado. In the southwestern section of
the state, are the Rio Grande, San Juan and
Dolores, and in the western and northwestern,
the Gunnison, Grand, White, Yampa, and
other streams, well fed by many smaller,
from the mountains. Mineral springs abountl
and have led to the founding of towns and
popular resorts, Manitou and Glenwood
Springs being the larger and better known.
Many lakes are nestled in the higher ranges,
the plateaus, valleys and plains, and among
the principal ones are Twin Lakes, Grand
Lake, San Luis, San Cristobal, Evergreen,
Barr — a list of an hundred might be given —
popular for resorts or sportsmen. The great
reservoirs now constructed or building for
irrigation, rival some of the natural lakes in
size, and in alluring, ducks, geese, and water
fowl in their migrations.

The physical features of Colorado are
most attractive. The nature building of the
ages, made beautiful landscapes, picturesque
valleys, broad extending plateaus and parks,
grand mountain ranges, the home of eternal
snow, whence come the rivers cutting the
deep and awe inspiring canons. The Rocky
^Mountains, though the last of the great
ranges, were so wonderfuUx' constructed and
witli such variety of view and scenery, that
this state has become the jiopular mecca of
the tourist.


Cliff Dwellers— Prehistoric Peoples in Colorado— The Indians.

ATURE had completed her
grand work, and Colorado
was now ready for man.
When he first came to this re-
gion is not known. In the
southwestern part of the
United States, in what now
comprises Colorado, New
Mexico, Utah, and Arizona, are found the
ruins and remains of unknown tribes or races.
Whence they came or where they went, or
the fate that may have befallen them, is a
mystery that history has not yet solved. Evi-
dences of their culture and civilization were
found by the early explorers, but there were
no survivors, at least in Colorado, to tell the
story of what may be considered a lost race.
They lived in the cliffs, where their ancient
dwellings remain, but in ruins, and filled with
many articles used in that period. Hence,
the Cliff Dwellers, as they are commonly
designated, are known as the prehistoric
people of Colorado. This does not neces-
sarily mean that they lived here at a time
that was prehistoric with the human race,
for written history may have come down from
a period in the new world, or old, long before
the Cliff Dwellers were inhabitants of this
state. They were prehistoric in the sense,
that there is no authentic account concerning
them. But, as the geologist writes the story
of the past life from the fossils found in the
rocks, so the historian, from the ruins and
relics of this ancient race, may evolve some
facts with reasonable assurance.

The Cliff Dwellers may have been nomadic
tribes that once inhabited the plains and val-
leys. Through the misfortunes of war, or
other adverse conditions that may have
threatened their very existence, it is supposed
that they sought homes and protection in
these cliffs. The evidences of their culture
in Colorado, are found in the southwestern
part of the state, in the Mesa Verde region
of the Mancos and its tributaries. Here, in
the cliffs, they built, between the shelving
rocks, stone houses, some of the material used
being hewn rock, put together with mortar.
They were only accessible by means of ladders
and ropes. Corn, beans, pumpkins and other
products of the soil, together with evidences
of the chase, show that they were farmers and

hunters. Towers lower down, would indi-
cate that when cultivating the land, they
probably stationed guards to watch for the
approach of possibly new or old time foes.
The dead were found buried in the rear of
their houses, or under shelving rocks, or some-
times sealed up in the rooms in which they
may have died. Upon the walls, some of
which were plastered, have been discovered
pictographs, telling in a crude way, something
of their life, legends and beliefs. They

Online LibraryWilliam Columbus FerrilSketches of Colorado: being an analytical summary and biographical history of the State of Colorado as portrayed in the lives of the pioneers, the founders, the builders, the statesmen, and the promin → online text (page 1 of 42)