George S. (George Samuel) Clason.

Free homestead lands of Colorado described; a handbook for settlers online

. (page 1 of 39)
Online LibraryGeorge S. (George Samuel) ClasonFree homestead lands of Colorado described; a handbook for settlers → online text (page 1 of 39)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook




.1 !>KlfNO\AL \VOK1) 13 Y THE AUTIIOIf.

/Y 1877 an engineer, surveying
on the plains of Colorado, made
the following entry in his note

"The land surface here is prairie,
usually slightly rolling, but level
in many places. There is an abun-
dance of good, tall grass. While
^^^B^"*j|k there is no running water in this

jd^H nb^j^fe^. vicinity, water can be found by dig-

4gl Hfck. 9^ n 9 shallow wells, and there are

Hk frequent water holes along the
draws. The soil is sandy and of
very good quality. Thousands of
buffalo can be seen every day feed-
ing on the plains."

Today, just thirty-eight years later, much of the land, at
I lie e.i-act point u'here the surveyor stood when he wrote the
chore, is still vacant and, unclaimed, and, with little change,
except for the passing of the herds of buffalo. This spot is less
I han tircnty miles from tiro railroads, and the land is naturally
suited for farming.

There is only one reason that this, as iccll as hundreds of
other similar locations in Colorado, is not settled and farmed
a I the present time, and that is, because the people who would,
appreciate this farm land and, would like to take it, knoic
nothing about it.

The Government of 1he United States has many millions
of acres of unused, undeveloped lands in the State of Colorado.
Much of this is good land, considerable of it is exceptionally
good, and nearly all of it is good for some, purpose. There arc
inani/ families in the United States who irould like, to hare
homes on this land ; and if they owned it and lii'cd, upon it, it
irould mean not onhj a (food tiring, but a chance to prosper and
become independent .

This book has been prepared to tell the, story of an unde-
veloped empire. It is not an advertisement of a firm that has
land to sell, and the, descriptions should not be misinterpreted
or condemned' because they arc not written in the floircry
language of 1 he, salesman.

The descriptions are intended to be used in connection irith,
the maps showing the vacant homestead lands. The, tiro
lo<ic/hcr sJioir wlutl land is vacant, wJiere it IN and of what
character. A careful study of these should enable anyone to
clio':se a location for a home, having all the features they most



Copyrighted, 1915



Homestead Lands

of Colorado


A Handbook for Settlers

Price, $2,00

Published By

1515 Tremont Place
Denver, Colo.


Bancroft Library


Twenty-eight per cent of the entire area of the State of
Colorado was unappropriated and unreserved on July 1, 1914,
according to the official report of the United States land office of
that date.

The total area of Colorado is approximately 66,000,000
acres; the unappropriated area nearly 19,000,000 acres. These
unreserved lands equal the area of the State of Maine.

In speaking of the vacant lands, the mountainous and forest
areas are excluded; as this portion of the State, covering ap-
proximately one-fifth of the entire area was withdrawn from
entry a number of years ago and included in a system of National
Forests. The lands which are vacant and available for homestead
entry are mostly non-mountainous.

The largest area of one character is probably the level
prairie lands. These are generally suitable for farming and
stock raising.

Another classification, of which there is a tremendous acre-
age. could generally be called hilly lands. These are either roll-
ing foothills or low ranges of hills and would also include the
mesa lands and broken lands.

In the mountainous portion of the State there are vast
areas of vacant lands, comprising bench lands around the sides
of the valleys, natural parks in the mountains and small valleys
along the streams: also high plateaus practically level and offer-
ing excellent soil: all awaiting farmers to claim and cultivate

It can be stated as a general fact, that the soil in Colorado
is usually good, fertile and productive. While a large propor-
tion of this laiid is what would be termed "second choice," that
is, that the finer lands have already been picked out; yet this
land would be considered valuable in any country, a large per-
centage of it being suitable for cultivation.

In the more sparsely settled sections, further from the rail-
roads, the first-class land has not even been taken and there are
opportunities to find valleys and fertile plains as good as anyone
could ask for.

The scenic attractions of Colorado have been so widely
heralded, that many people have formed a wrong conception of
the State. They too often think of it as Switzerland on a larger
scale, and as a panoramic conglomeration of mountain peaks and
narroAv valleys. As a matter of fact, the great plains that ex-
tend westward from the Missouri river across Nebraska and Kan-


sas, continue uninterrupted across the entire eastern half*. %J:
Colorado, where they first meet the foothills, a few miles west of

Colorado is traversed north and south by the Great Con-
tinental divide, the crest of the Rocky mountains. The streams,
on the eastern side, drain into the Gulf of Mexico, thence into the
Atlantic ocean; the streams, on the western side, drain into the
Gulf of California, and thence into the Pacific ocean. There are
a number of shorter mountain ranges, the general trend of which
is north and south.

Not to exceed one-fourth of the entire area of the State is
strictly mountainous. The western portion of Colorado, along
the Utah boundary, is a succession of large valleys, high plateaus
and rolling, hilly country. The mountainous district, which
could be generally defined as a wide belt, just Avest of the central
part of the State, is interspersed by many valleys, large and
small, and by large open parks and by plateau lands.

The mountains and streams divide the State into several
natural divisions, each nearly as large as an ordinary State, and
each, very different from the other. Those different divisions
have a wide diversity of soil and climate.

At the last census in 1910, the population of Colorado was
799,024, showing an increase of 48% over the proceeding ten

ears, as against a general increase of 21% for the entire United

Colorado is a rapidly growing State. It has thirty-six prin-
cipal cities. Denver, the largest, has a population of 250,000;
Pueblo, the second, has a population of 50,000 ; Colorado Springs,
30,000. Trinidad is the only other city which the last census
gave a population of 10,000. Several of the cities have a popula-
tion of 5,000 to 10,000; and thirteen have a population of from
2,500 to 5,000, and twelve have less than 2,500. The aggregate
population of the thirty-six cities was over 400,000 or 51% of
the total population of the State.

These figures have a significance that should not be over-
looked by those contemplating moving into this State. Colorado
is peculiar amongst the states. It is one of the most attractive
states to live in, owing to its natural scenery, elevation and
climate. It is a mining State. A considerable portion of its
population work in the mines and consequently only a compara-
tively small percentage of the population live on farms.

Of all the lands in this State suitable for farming only one-
fifth are under cultivation at the present time. Colorado has
been very widely advertised for its scenic attractions. Every
one is familiar with the pictures of Pikes peak and our other
sky-piercing mountains. Very few people living outside of


the State realize that the mountain ranges cross the State north
and south and only cover about one-fourth of the total area.
The rest is made up principally of plains with mountain valleys
and mountain parks.

The value of farm lands in Colorado is far below what it
should be. This is easily accounted for from the fact that the
available farm lands exceed the supply of farmers in the State
five to one. People are waking up to this fact, too. They are
finding out that ten acres in Colorado can be purchased for the
price of one acre in Illinois, Iowa and the Eastern States. They
are also finding that there is not so much difference between
what can be produced on an acrt, of Colorado land and on an
acre in the Mississippi valley.

The easiest money a farmer can make is what he can make
out of the increase in the value of his land. Every $10.00 per
acre increase on 320 acres amounts to $3,200. Colorado's cheap-
est lands today will rapidly increase in value as they are cul-
tivated and become more productive.

The United States and Colorado are working together to
encourage the farmers of this State. Through the State Agri-
cultural college, located at Fort Collins, and the U. S. Gov-
ernment experiment stations, located in numerous parts of the
State, they have been carrying on scientific experiments to prove
what crops are best adapted to our soil and climate ; and to bring
in from foreign lands the seeds, grasses, grains and forage crops
that are successfully cultivated under similar conditions in other
countries. This work has been very successful.

Bird's-eye View of Colorado, Looking North and She

j'W the State is Divided by Rang-es of Mountains





A trip made in November by ten prominent Colorado men,
as a joint committee from the Denver commercial organizations,
developed some surprising facts about farming without irriga-
tion in this State. At the start only a few of thisT committee knew
much about the subject, but when they returned, after actually
traveling 475 miles, there was not a member of the committee
who was not enthusiastic over the opportunities for settlers. In
their trip they circled an area of nearly 10,000 square miles.
They were not led to a few isolated examples where success was
achieved on account of local conditions; on the contrary, they
visited hundreds of farms along their route and personally in-
terviewed the settlers. We cannot do better than quote a few
brief extracts from the official report of this committee.


After carefully considering the evidence secured on this
trip the committee has unanimously agreed upon the following
conclusions :

Profitable agriculture without irrigation and by utilizing
the principles of scientific moisture conservation is being most
successfully conducted in Eastern Colorado.

While only about 6 per cent of the available lands are now
included in farms in this section, and only about 2 per cent of
that amount is under cultivation, the farms are scattered over
such a wide area that it is practically representative of what is
possible by the same methods over all of it.

That the requisites to success are, first the use of moisture
conservation methods; second, basing operations upon livestock,
and, third, the construction of silos.

Farmers who have been in the country long enough to prove
up on their lands are successfully financing themselves from their

Wheat is extensively raised as a "good money" crop, but a
diversity of crops is most profitable. Mexican beans, corn and
forage crops are being extensively raised and fed largely to hogs.

Vegetables are easily grown and all farms are well supplied.

Privately owned and improved farm lands cannot be bought
for less than $20 per acre and are held at $25 to $30 per acre.
The strongest demand for land is from farmers who live here
and who are buying additional lands with their earnings.


While soil conditions vary, there are comparatively few
localities where farming cannot be successfully carried on. It
only being necessary to adapt the crops to the soil. There is no
scarcity of domestic water ot good quality at any point, wells and
windmills being used.


One of the most surprising parts of the report of this com-
mittee, was that which dealt with the individual settlers. Scores
of these men told their stories. Many of them had landed here
with noting but debts, yet read what the committee says about
them now. Every man of them has made his money on these un-
irrigated plains of Colorado and he has something to show for
it. They have their farms, their improvements and their live-
stock. Here are a few instances:

Harry Swain has been in the State only six years. Had
just enough money to get there. Worked out by the day until
he was able to buy some cows, hogs and chickens. He is now
worth $5,000.

O. W. Alexander started out very small. He now owns 320
acres with good improvements, well worth $5,000, the results of
five years of work.

George Cornfieff spent eight years in accumulating property
worth $11,000. He got his start with a few cows, hogs and

John Roseitter has made $8,000 in seven years.

Jack Sissler came here broke five years ago. He now owns
320 acres of land worth $5,000.

Charles W. Brown in nine years has secured 400 acres of
land worth $10,000.

Mr. Edlin hasn't had a crop failure in eight years. He
landed with only a $15 watch; now owns 640 acres of land twen-
ty head of cattle, six head of horses, $1,000 worth of improve-
ments and is worth $10,000 clear of debt.

Herbert Calkins raised sixty bushels of oats to the acre;
his wheat averaged thirty-seven bushels. He came to this coun-
try with nothing and after eight years is worth $10,000.

The committee states that these farmers are almost uni-
versally successful. The unsuccessful farmers of a few years ago
are gone. The secret of this success is not that conditions have
changed; not that the soil is any different; nor the rainfall any
greater; but that scientific investigation has proved how to cul-
tivate the land to get the best results from the growth of crops and
how to feed the products to stock, thereby realizing a greater
amount of returns from it.


The settlers who come to Colorado today are coming under
different conditions from those of fifteen or twenty years ago.
The way has been paved for them. There is a clear trail blazed
to success, if they will intelligently follow the methods already

Colorado has over 300 sun-shiny days each year. Those
who lived in damp, foggy countries can appreciate the desirabil-
ity of this. Unquestionably it is one of our greatest assets and
combined with clear, bracing atmosphere, gives a vim and en-
thusiasm to our citizens that accounts for their physical and men-
tal activities. It is rare indeed to find anyone with whom the
climate of Colorado does not agree. Many who come to this
State, suffering from diseases in their incipiency, become well
and strong.

Colorado's winters are usually dry. They start in with dry,
pleasant fall days, without serious cold Aveather before Novem-
ber. December and January are tli only months in which severe
weather occurs, and would not be called severe in climates further
north. Zero weather seldom lasts more than three days or a
week at a time and there are about three such spells each winter.
Snow seldom lays on the ground for more than a few days and
at the longest a couple of weeks. The clear, bright Colorado
sunshine, even in winter, quickly melts it aAvay. By the middle
of February the winter is broken. Spring is a succession of
bright, clear days, interspersed with rains and wet snows. In
the mountainous sections most of the annual precipitation comes
in the form of heavy snows; in the plains section, the bulk of the
precipitation comes in the form of rain from April to July, or
just when needed by the farmer. By harvest time the rains are
over. The Colorado farmer never worries from fear of rain
spoiling his grain or crops. He knows that if it does rain, the
bright sunshine will quickly dry it without damage. You never
see him get up from the dining table during a meal and look out
at the weather. He does not need to worry.


In the report of census of 1910 of the United States, under
the subject of farm mortgages, we find that out of all the farms
in the United States, 33% are mortgaged.

In Iowa 51% are mortgaged; in Xebraska, 45%; Kansas.
41%; yet in Colorado only 26% are mortgaged.


What more convincing argument could be brought forth in
favor of the success and the possibilities for those dwelling on
Colorado's farms?


The records of the State land office show that the settlers in
Eastern Colorado who have bought State lands on the yearly
payment plan, almost without exception, meet their payments
promptly. What could be a better evidence of their prosperity
than this?


The products of Colorado farms are famous for quality
over the entire United States. What other section is there that
produces so many things, the local names for which have become
by- words for quality? Among these we can mention Rocky
Ford cantaloupes, Colorado celery, Fort Collins' lambs, Greeley
potatoes, Grand Valley apples and Palisade peaches.

Nearly all vegetables grow in abundance. The rich soil and
the abundance of sunshine produce a quality that cannot be sur-
passed. Grains and fodder crops do well. Although at high
elevation,- seeds must be selected from varieties that mature early.
Up to an elevation of 6,000 feet corn does very well.

On the unirrigated land scientific methods of deep tillage
and moisture conservation have turned millions of acres of pas-
turage lands into productive farms.

The secret of the farmer's success on the unirrigated lands is
stock raising; feeding his grains and forage crops to the cattle
and marketing these in the form of beef, pork, cream, butter and

This is not a country of large wheat farms. Wheat does
very well on the irrigated lands, and also does well on the unirri-
gated lands under usual conditions. Wheat requires more mois-
ture than many other crops. Very few farmers make a specialty
of wheat, in Colorado, as they find that diversified farming and
stock raising is more profitable.


Colorado was one of the first states in which irrigation was
practiced. The large flowing streams and the very broad, low
valleys adapted themselves readily to irrigation. At present
there is about 3,000,000 acres of land under ditches in this State.


A great effort has been made to put all of the large tracts of
land under ditches, especially those that could be brought under
irrigation at an expense of less than $30 per acre for water. The
large areas that remain now, which could be irrigated could
only be brought under irrigation at a very heavy expense.
There are, however, innumerable opportunities for putting water
on small tracts.


It is on the lands in this State that can be cultivated without
irrigation that there are the greaest opportunities for farmers.
Only within a very few years have settlers found out what crops
to plant and how to cultivate them in order to make a success of
farming on semi-arid lands without irrigation. The value of this
semi-arid land is not appreciated at the present time, and much
of it can be bought at a price below what it is actually worth in
proportion to the crops that can be raised. There are still large
areas of this class of land open for homestead entry.

Farming on such lands is very frequently referred to as
"dry farming," an expression which is a misnomer and objected
to by many. It has, however, come to be a common expression,
and one for which there seems to be no other word or words better
explaining the meaning implied.

Lands that must be dry farmed are not necessarily lands
which do not have sufficient rainfall to produce crops; but lands
which, owing to the peculiar surface or climatical conditions, fail
to retain and utilize this rainfall. The air in Colorado, for ex-
ample, is very dry. It is all the time absorbing moisture from
the ground. A few hours of bright, warm sunshine in this dry
climate, readily evaporates a light rainfall unless it penetrates
well into the surface.

Then many of the soils contain fine silt and as soon as they
become wet the silt closes the pores of the soil and makes it very
near waterproof. Instead of the moisture being absorbed, it runs
off the surface.

Dry farming is merely a process of conserving the natural
rainfall. Oftentimes it begins with fall plowing and harrowing
to store the water from the winter snows. The farmers who are
practicing dry farming in this State under the supervision of the
county agriculturist, and taking advantage of the research work
of the State Agricultural college and the United States bureau
of agriculture's experiment stations scattered through the State,
are meeting with good success.

The farmers on unirrigated lands in Colorado are making
as much money as those in the irrigated districts. In many


localities their crops are nearly or quite as large, and their land
is cultivated at less expense.


Colorado is favored with a very large yield per acre, both
in fields and orchards. The yield is from twenty-five to thirty
per cent higher than the average for the entire United States.
The following brief table gives an average crop yield for the
State on a few of the principal products, as compared with the
average for the United States :

Colorado U. S.

Wheat, bushels 21.6 14.7

Oats, bushels 37.9 30 . 6

Barley, bushels 33.1 24.3

Hay, tons 2.06 1.34

Beets, tons .13. 10.6


The soil in Colorado is unusually fertile. It has been formed
by the decomposition of the mountains through countless ages,
and gradually washed down into the valleys and plains. The
soil is much deeper than that founJ in most other parts of the
United States, varying from seldom less than two feet to often
as deep as from twenty to one hundred feet. The farmer need
have no fear of plowing too deep.

The occurrence of cactus, sagebrush and greasewood on raw
land is usually considered as an indication of high class soil.
These plants do not flourish in poor soil. The absence of vegeta-
tion does not necessarily prove that the soil is not good, as some
of the most valuable farm lands in the State were originally
practically destitute of vegetation when first cultivated.

No fertilizer is required in Colorado. Those who are accus-
tomed to paying several dollars per acre for fertilizing, may
doubt this, yet it is a fact that lands have been successfully culti-
vated in this State for the past twenty-five years without fertil-
izing. This is accounted for by the natural fertility and great
depth of the soil.

One of the decided advantages for the settler on the plains
and in the larger valleys in the State, is that most of the raw
land is ready for the plow. There are seldom nigger heads or
boulders to clear off the field no brush to grub or stumps to
pull just good prairie sod to plow, and the field is ready to
raise a crop. This enables the settler to get a crop the first year
on his land. In the western portion of the State, there is often
a heavy growth of sage brush and greasewood, shrubs growing
from twelve inches to three feet high. These can be cleaned
with a drag and burned. Timber occurs quite generally on the


side of the hills, but seldom on the level or gently rolling land.

The surface of a considerable area of the plains is sandy,
often being almost pure sand, covered with bunch grass. It has
been found that very frequently this sand is merely a coating
on the surface of from two inches to a foot in depth, having
been deposited by the Avinds on top of a good loam, and, in such
instances, deep plowing will change this sandy prairie into first-
class farming land. A soil that is excessively sandy can fre-
quently be cultivated very successfully, as the sandy soils con-
serve moisture.

There is very little soil in Colorado that is not good. It is
generally lack of soil that makes the barren places. Alkali
occurs very seldom, and is usual!} 7 only a surface deposit. Alka-
line lands frequently raise good crops of alfalfa.


Owing to the manner in which Colorado is naturally divided

Online LibraryGeorge S. (George Samuel) ClasonFree homestead lands of Colorado described; a handbook for settlers → online text (page 1 of 39)