also History of the Clear Creek Valleys
Source: Rocky Mountain Directory and Colorado Gazetteer for 1871, transcribed by J.S.
The western half of this county lies in the foot-hills, and the eastern half of the plains. It is bounded on the north by Boulder and Weld counties; on the east by Arapahoe and Douglas counties; on the south by Douglas, and on the west by Clear Creek and Gilpin counties.
Its western limits do not extend far enough up the foot-hills to reach the belt of gold lodes that traverse these mountains, but include a series of copper and iron veins, which contain ores of these metals in great quantities. Along the base of the foot-hills, in the upturned tertiary strats, nearly the entire length of the county, coal measures of great extent have already been discovered and extensively worked; and fire-clay, gypsum and potter's clay also abound in unlimited quantities.
The agricultural advantages of this county are unsurpassed by any other in Colorado. In the mountain portion, the valleys of streams (tributaries of the Platte) widen out as they approach the plains, and form quite extensive ranches, or farms, which are actively cultivated, with large and profitable returns. These yield oats, hay and vegetables, and when the plains are reached, besides these, wheat, corn and barley, with great profusion.
On the "plains" portion of the county, agriculture is aided by irrigation, and ample facilities for this are in the reach of all, as canals traverse the entire county, affording an abundant and unfailing supply of water at all seasons. Jefferson county has but little waste land. The soil, not only of the plains and valleys, but of the mountain slopes, is unusually productive, and the climate favorable, even at the greatest elevations in the mountains. With these advantages, the agricultural resources of the county are important, and will afford the means of support, and the opportunities for the accumulation of wealth, to a large population; but from the greater facilities afforded for manufacturing enterprises, these will, without doubt, eventually form the principal feature of the county's industries. The principal inducements for the investments of capital in manufactories are the abundance of cheap fuel, supplied by the immense coal deposits' the inexhaustible supplies of excellent building material; the existence of superior water-powers and mill-sites, and the proximity of large deposits of minerals, including copper and iron in the county, and gold and silver in the adjoining counties of Boulder and Gilpin. These advantages have already been improved to a considerable extent, and the manufacturing enterprises of the county have assumed proportions that place Jefferson county ahead of all other counties of Colorado in such industries. These embrace the manufacture of fire-brick, for furnaces; ordinary brick, for building purposes; coarse earthen or pottery ware, and paper. Besides the factories engaged in the manufacture of these indispensable articles, there are breweries, a distillery, planing mills, saw-mills, a mill for grinding gypsum, and several extensive flouring mills. The fuel, water-power, crude material, and material for the construction of factories, used in all these, except that for paper, are among the products and resources of the county, and exist in unlimited supplies. Coal for fuel, superior in quality, and at cheap rates; fire, potter's, and ordinary clay, and gypsum at the base of the foot-hills; lumber in the pine forest on the mountains; cereals on the plains and valleys, and water-power from Clear creek and its tributaries, which traverse the entire county from east to west.
That these superior advantages will induce the further investment of capital in manufacturing enterprises is unquestionable; and no doubt, in addition to present industries, there will soon be constructed extensive reduction works, for the treatment of the ores of the gold and silver belts of adjacent counties. The facilities afforded for such works are unsurpassed, and should be taken advantage of at once. Besides the superior wagon roads, peculiar to every district of Colorado already inhabited, Jefferson is traversed by a railway, the Colorado Central, which affords the medium of cheap and ample transportation for her produce to all markets, and places her in direct communication with all commercial centres.
The principal city, and county seat of Jefferson, is Golden City, located in the valley of Clear creek, near the base of the foot-hills, in the northern central portion of the county, about fifteen miles from Denver. This was first settled early in 1850, by gulch miners, and soon became prosperous and populous, and has remained so. It is not only the chief city of the county, but the home of her principal manufacturing, mining, and mercantile enterprises, an educational and religious institutions. It is surrounded, traversed and mined by coal measures, beds of fire and potter's clay, and ledges of gypsum, and watered by Clear creek, which affords numerous superior water-powers and mill privileges, and is in the immediate vicinity of pine forests and cultivated lands. A detailed history of Golden and her advantages appears in an appropriate chapter.
The only other town of importance in Jefferson county is Mount Vernon, a beautiful little village, nestled among the foot-hills, about eighteen miles from Denver, on the main wagon road from that city of Idaho Springs. It is surrounded by quarries of limestone, which makes excellent building material, and pine forests, affording good lumber in limited quantities. The principal streams of Jefferson county are Clear creek and its tributaries, and branches of the Platte-Deer, Turkey, Bear and Coal creeks, also the North Fork of the South Platte, which flows through the southern division of the county. They all have an easterly direction, and flow from the foot-hills, across the county, to its eastern limits, and are skirted by bottom lands, eminently fertile and actively cultivated.
The altitude of the county varies from 4,800 and 8,000 feet above the sea-level, and the climate is that peculiar to the region-healthy, invigorating, and free from all kinds of malarious or pulmonic diseases. Extreme in temperature are unknown, and great falls of snow never take place. Stock fatten at all seasons, without shelter, and without food save the grasses, which are abundant and possess all the nutritious and perennial qualities peculiar to those of Colorado.
Jefferson has already a population which numbers among the thousands; but still has ample room, and offers superior inducements to tens of thousands of industrious miners, mechanics and ranch-men.
Source: Colorado: A Historical, Descriptive and Statistical Work on the Rocky Mountain Gold and Silver Mining Region, by Frant Fossett 1876-transcribed by J.S.
Its Manufactories and Coal Veins-Golden City-Facts and Figures from the Smelting Companies-Flour and Paper Mills and Collieries-The Murphy and Ralston Coal Banks
Jefferson County embraces a long narrow strip of country between Gilpin and Clear Creek counties on the west, an[sic] Arapahoe and Douglas on the east. On the north is Boulder county, and to the south, Park. East of the foot-hills are some of the best lands in the state. The average yield of wheat this season has been from twenty to thirty bushels per acre. The valleys of Clear creek and Ralston, and all of the intervening lands that have been irrigated, are filled with well-to-do farmers, who in a few short years have accumulated what they possess. In the mountains, the valley of Bear creek is studded with farms were plenty and prosperity are the portion of all.
Golden, the "Lowell of Colorado," is the main town and county seat of Jefferson. It is fifteen miles from Denver by rail and fourteen by wagon road, and twenty-two from Central. It is situated in a valley encircled by hills and mountains-Table mountain shutting out the view towards the plains. The town was laid out in 1859, and was at various periods the capital of the territory, until Denver became the permanent seat of government. Its leading men, such as Loveland and Welch and others for many years strove to make it the railroad centre of the territory. As it is they have secured for it a bright and prosperous future.
Golden is a place of no little importance. It is the headquarters of the Colorado Central broad and narrow gauge railway. Here are the repair shops, car manufacturing shops and general office of the road. There are two extensive smelting establishments to which ore is sent from the various mountain mining districts. There are three flour mills, supplied from the neighboring farming sections, which turn out annually $200,000 worth of flour. Two coal mines are worked and five miles distant are the Murphy and Ralston coal banks. There is also a paper mill and works for the manufacture of fire bricks. The former, owned by G.D. Dickinson, turned out 125 tons of paper this season.
The State School of Mines is located here of which a description is given in another chapter. Golden has population of 2,000, two weekly newspapers, the Transcript and Globe, an elegant school house costing $17,500 and attended by 300 pupils, and half a dozen churches. There are two bankers, (F.E. Everett and J.W. Smith) two hotels and a number of first-class business houses.
The flour mills each have two run of stone. The Barnes mill, owned by J. Quaintance, is being enlarged and improved so as to increase its capacity, thereby enabling it to turn out 180 sacks of flour daily. Attached to the same building is a new kind of quartz mill, invented by the proprietor. Two stone wheels of four tons weight each, move about in a circular pan partly filled with ore. These do the crushing in lieu of stamps. The pulverized ore is washed through the screens forming the side of the pan into a second pan below, containing quicksilver. Iron arms keep the pulp in motion until amalgamation is completed, while the refuse is gradually carried over the rim of the pan to the creek.
The Rock mills owned by Barber and Brady, turn out 120 sacks by Clear creek, which debounces from its mountain walled canon at this point. It also supplies several irrigating ditches with water for the farming districts.
An abundance of water power for all future demands is afforded by Clear creek, which debounces from its mountain walled canon at this point. It also supplies several irrigating ditches with the water for the farming districts.
While the coal veins of Boulder and some other counties are usually flat, those of Jefferson are vertical or nearly so.
In 1872, what are known as the Golden Smelting works, were established by Bagley and son. Afterwards they became the property of the Golden Smelting Company. A blast furnace is used and gold, silver, copper and lead are saved. Wm. B. Young, is manager and Gregory Board, metallurgist. The works have been in successful operation the entire year, with the exception of intervals when stopped for repairs or improvements. The following is the statement of the operations of the works for nine months of 1876. Ores rich in lead are the classes desired.
The works of the Colorado Dressing and Smelting Company, at Golden, began operations late in the spring of 1876. The process is that of Swansea, and of the Boston and Colorado Smelting works at Black Hawk and Alma. The valuable metals are not separated at the works, but are sent by rail in the form of matte to Black Hawk for separation. A furnace of fifteen tons daily capacity has been in successful operation for months, and has smelted from twelve to fifteen tons of ore daily. Another furnace of equal size is being constructed, so that within a few weeks the daily capacity will be thirty tons. Each furnace can produce two tons of matte daily.
John Collom, of many years experience in smelting and concentrating ores in Clear Creek and other counties, is general manager for the company and all of its establishments. He has individual charge at headquarters; that is at the smelting works at Golden. Coal is used as fuel and is considered much cheaper than wood, and equally effective.
Most of the ores treated here are sent from the large concentrating works of the company at Black Hawk. A quantity, however, has been furnished by works of similar character located one mile about Idaho Springs. The latter operate mainly on silver ores, and as they run by water power only, are now idle for the winter. Ores are also brought from other localities in large quantities, the American mine, of Sunshine contributing largely.
The Concentrating and Dressing establishment, at Black Hawk, occupies the great Keith Mill building on North Clear creek, which was enlarged for that purpose. This began operations in April last. Since then it has been subjected to a number of stoppages from a variety of causes, but from no defect of the works outside of trouble with screens.
Altogether very nearly 10,000 tons of ore were dressed at these works from Gilpin county mines the seven months ending November 1st, 1876. These were usually concentrated into one-fourth and often one-fifth of their former bulk and then sent to the smelter at Golden. Three tons per hour, or seventy-two tons in twenty-four hours can be dressed at this place. The ore is first crushed by crushers and rollers and then operated by machinery. A system of jigging is used for the coarser ores, while the finer material is handled on shaking tables. The system is that of wet concentration, and is the invention of John Collom. The waste or gangue rock and comparatively worthless ore is separated from the richer portion and the latter saved. By this means the values are condensed into less bulk, giving very nearly the entire quantities of gold, silver and copper in one ton, instead of in four or five.
Five tons of ore containing only $15 per ton, or $75 altogether would not pay the expense of smelting alone, not to speak of mining. But if this $75 is separated from the poorer rock so as to be contained in one ton, good profits can be realized and liberal prices paid. That is why these works are proving of incalculable benefit to the miner. Ores of any description can be handled, but those rich in copper are preferred.
These works treat the same grade of ores handled by the stamp mills, and some that cannot be made to pay expenses there. The stamp miles save something over half the valuable contents of the ores, losing most all of the silver and copper. Their average returns were $11 60 per ton in 1875, indicating the contents of the ore to be nearly $20 per ton. The dressing works concentrate and then send the ores to Golden, when they are smelted, and ninety-seven per cent of the gold, silver and copper are saved. Ores that are of too poor a quality to be mined and milled, are sold here at paying figures and then concentrated and smelted.
It is some satisfaction to know that nearly the entire value is saved, instead of forty per cent of it going down the creeks to irretrievable waste. While $28,000,000 have been realized from the gold mines of Gilpin county since 1859, probably is still larger amount has been carried down North Clear Creek.
No statement has been received of the yield of these concentrated ores. About 10,000 tons have been handled. Allowing this quantity to contain the low average of less that $18 per ton, it should have given a return of $17 per ton, or when reduced in bulk of over $70 per ton. This would give a yield, in seven months, of $170,000 from Gilpin county gold ores-mainly of a class that did not pay to mine and mill before these works were built. When fairly under way, another season, the showing will be far better. The above sum would represent only a part of the value of shipments, obtained from all ores smelted by the company.
The Ralston and Murphy coal veins are located on Ralston creek, at the point of its issue from the mountains, fourteen miles from Denver and five north of Golden. There are two parallel veins of unequal size but similar character, extending through both properties. Unlike most other Colorado coal measures, these are vertical veins. Geo. C. Munson, Esq., of Denver, recently made an examination and gave this interesting report on them. "Coal of a merchantable quality was the first mined in the Ralston colliery, at a depth of thirty-five feet. Here is the upper level which is eight hundred feet long. On this level from a space five hundred feet long, ten high, and fourteen wide, 5,000 tons of coal were sold at Denver. Double tracks of iron rails are laid for carrying coal to the surface. The same incline that leads to the first level, passes down eighty feet beyond, where another level has been run in both directions, north and south. The incline is altogether one hundred and ten feet long, attains a vertical depth of one hundred and fifteen feet, and dips from thirty to thirty-five degrees.
One continuous vein of coal is developed about the "incline" making a vertical depth of coal below the upper level of eight feet. A level, already one hundred and ten feet long, is being run at the bottom. Width of the vein from fourteen to fifteen feet, two inches. Coal clean, without faults, or foreign or worthless substance. Between the two coal veins is a splendid body of fire-clay, twenty-nine feet wide, and through this, a cross cut has been driven to connect them. The west or small vein for a length of thirty-five feet, or as far as opened, measures from five feet to six feet four inches in width. J.T. Hodge, of the Hayden survey, made the following analysis of Ralston Hodge, of the Hayden survey, made the following analysis of Ralston and Murphy coal:
The superior quality of these coals, as far as northern Colorado is concerned, ensures higher prices than most others. The main Ralston opening is covered by a building with engine, etc. Half a mile south and for a considerable distance north includes the remaining developments."
The Murphy property commences six hundred feet from the Ralston engine. Nine hundred feet beyond this is the main Murphy shaft. This is sunk one hundred and fifty feet on the vein, with the surface sixty feet below that of the Ralston works. Here the veins are a little wider than they appear in the Ralston. The large one increased from fourteen feet on the surface to fifteen feet below, and the small vein measures from six feet four inches to six feet eight inches. A branch railway will be constructed within a year connecting with the Colorado Central, on the Boulder division, or at Golden. More powerful hoisting machinery will soon be placed over the mines. Mr. Munson estimates the number of tons of coal "in sight" as follows: Murphy, large vein 2,000,000; small vein 1,000,000; Ralston large vein 1,500,000; small vein 1,000,000. At both mines are engines for hoisting and screens for screening the coal. As the veins are vertical and show no signs of departing from their present direction, the amount of coal that lies beneath the lower workings cannot be estimated.
Source: A Guidebook to Colorado, by Eugene Parsons 1911, transcribed by J.S.
Green Russell Expedition. The history of Jefferson County is contemporaneous with that of Denver. The first notable fact of Colorado's history is the Green Russell expedition. In the spring of 1858 Russell and eight other Georgians, accompanied by thirty Cherokee Indians, set out to prospect the Rocky Mountains for gold. On the way they were joined by a party of Kansans who had heard rumors of finds in the South Platte River. In June the united company consisted of 104 persons. They passed up the Arkansas River almost to the forks; then they turned northward, prospecting Fountain Creek, Cherry Creek, and the Platte. Weeks passed, and not important "prospects" were located. From time to time members of the expedition got discouraged and started back home.
Prospecting for Gold. On June 24, 1858, the party camped on the site of Denver. Moving in a northwesterly direction, they entered what is now Jefferson County, and prospected Cherry Creek, near where the present town of Arvada stands.
Colors Found. To the Cherokees belongs the credit of originating the expedition. To the white men of the party belongs the credit of finding gold. The Cherokees lost hope and abandoned the quest. Russell and a dozen comrades had the virtue of stick-to-it-iveness; they stayed longer to prospect the streams of the eastern slope, and their persistence was finally rewarded. No gold to speak of was found at Arvada, but later they undiscovered deposits of the glittering dust in the Platte and Dry Creek, a little south of Denver of to-day. That was the real beginning of Colorado
In the summer and fall of 1858 upward of a thousand men found their way to Cherry Creek and the Pike's Peak country. Some of them panned out the sands of Clear Creek, getting colors to the value of a dollar or so a day, which was not encouraging. They wandered through the foothills, looking for gold nuggets. They found "prospects," but no gold to amount to anything.
Golden Founded. At the time Denver was building near the confluence of the Platte and Cherry Creek, two little gold camps (or, rather, camps of gold-seekers) grew up on Clear Creek about 15 or 16 miles farther west. That was in the fall of 1859. The following year Golden City was founded, and at once it became a rival of Denver. It was nearer to the new mountain towns-Central City, Idaho Springs, Boulder, Georgetown, and Breckenridge; and its position as the natural gateway to the mining camps led to greater enterprise on the part of its citizens than was exhibited by the Denverites.
Capital of Territory. "By the close of 1859," says Hall, "there were seven hundred residents in Golden. The influx during the next year or two was steady, though not large. . . In 1861 the War of the Rebellion and the subsidence of the gold mining excitement caused the tide of immigration to recede back to its original source. In 1862 stagnation set in . . . Golden did not greatly improve between 1863 and 1867. It was made the capital of the Territory in 1862, and held the well-nigh empty distinction five years, when it was moved to Denver. Governor Cummings was the only chief magistrate to make his headquarters there, and he only for a short time."
School of Mines. With the building of the railroad, in 1870, a new epoch of progress came, and the town made tremendous advances. Mills were built, a brewery, and various industries established, such as the making of fire-brick and pottery. In 1874 the School of Mines was founded here, and the State Industrial School for Boys was opened in 1881. Meanwhile other towns were started in the county, which has for a long time been accorded a place in the front rank of Colorado's counties.
Name of County. The county was named in honor of the statesman who penned the Declaration. In early days the Territory itself was called Jefferson. Then the name was changed to Colorado, after the great river of that name whose headwaters are in the Rocky Mountains. Colorado is a Spanish word meaning "colored" or "colored red." The canon of the Colorado River has many richly tinted rocks and cliffs; hence the appropriateness of the name.
Jefferson County is bounded on the north by Boulder County, on the east by Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas Counties, and on the west by Park, Clear Creek, and Gilpin Counties. The Platte River forms its eastern boundary for a considerable distance. It is wedge-shaped, 72 miles long, terminating at a point at the southern extremity. The northern border is 20 miles long.
Surface. The surface is exceedingly varied. The northeast corner consists of rolling plains, suited to agriculture. The hogback, or range of foothills, traverses the county from north to south. In the southern part are peaks from 11,000 to 12,000 feet or more in height. Says Captain E.L. Berthoud; "Fully two-thirds is comprised in high mountains and foothillls, the remaining third being undulating prairies over 5,000 feet above sea line, and which to-day are occupied for agricultural and pastoral purposes." (History of Jefferson County, p. 353.)
Area. The area is 840 square miles, of which 61,224 acres, or 11 percent were under cultivation in 1900. The cultivated area in 1909 was upward of 100,000 acres. The mean yearly precipitation is about 15 inches, and the average temperature 45 to 50 degrees. In 1900 the county had 9,306 inhabitants; the population in 1910 was 14,231.
The industries are varied. Mining, manufacturing, stock-raising, fruit growing, farming and gardening are successfully carried on.
Resources. The county is rich in natural resources, having coal and petroleum beds, fine clay, kaolin, mica, lime, copper, lead, gold, silver, mineral paint, building and monumental stone, basalt used for paving stone, and rhyolite tuff (an eruptive rock used in buildings).
Products. Jefferson might be called a self-sustaining commonwealth, for its products include nearly everything needed by a civilized people. The cattle on a thousand hills furnish beef. The ground brings forth cereals and vegetables in abundance. Apples, pears, and small fruits do well.
First Gardening. Among the '59ers was David K. Wall, of Indiana, who may be considered the father of agriculture in Colorado. In May, 1859, he arrived in the present site of Golden. He brought with him garden seed, a plow, and other farming implements. Wall had been to California, where he had seen irrigating done. In the bottom lands of Clear Creek he plowed and irrigated between two and three acres, where he raised "bonanza" crops of grain and vegetables. Now there are 80,000 acres tilled and artificially watered in Jefferson County. The pioneers found wild cherries and wild plums growing here in profusion and of most delicious flavor. The first fruit trees in the State were planted near Golden, in 1860. Now the county has thousands of acres devoted to orchards and vineyards.
County Seat. The county seat is Golden, 16 miles west of Denver on the Colorado and Southern Railway. Its altitude is 5,693 feet. In 1900 the town had 2,152 souls; the population in 1910 was 2,477. The pottery and brick manufacturies of Golden are especially noted. They obtain in the vicinity superior brick-clay and clay fit to the finest china ware. Golden is a popular picnic ground for Denver excursionists. Chimney Gulch is a picturesque locality.
Leaves from Geological Records. The vicinity of Golden was once a volcanic country. Table Mountain is a portion of what must have been an immense lava bed. This small mesa of lava is 250 feet thick. North of Golden are other lava masses, mute witnesses to the terrible volcanic eruptions that devastated this section ages ago. To the west is the surpassing pageant of mountain scenery, and in other directions one may gaze upon a variety of landscape. In various places between Golden and Denver stumps of palms and palmettos have been found, also fossil leaves of tropical trees, ferns and other forms of vegetation common in southern Texas and Old Mexico. This district once abounded with luxuriant forests, which later formed the coal beds that lie beneath the surface of Jefferson County, extending from its northern border to Wolhurst. The region about Golden is one of the most attractive places within easy reach of Denver. It is also historically interesting. Up Golden Gate Canon surged the gold-seekers of early days on their way to the mountains.
Morrison. Morrison, 17 miles southwest of Denver, was founded in 1874. It is the terminus of a spur of the Colorado and Southern Railway. In 1910 the place had a population of 251. The State Industrial School for Girls was established here in 1887. Morrison has an altitude of 5,766 feet. The "Tent City" and other spots in the environs of Morrison are good places to take the rest cure and build up physically. The bright sunshine by day and the cool nights (even in mid-summer) make living a joy. Nearby is excellent fishing.
Fossils. Many fossils have been found near Morrison. Here have been unearthed some of the richest treasures of paleontology of the West. Among other finds is that of the thigh bone of an atlantosaurus, the largest land animal known to the scientific world; the bone is 9 feet long and 28 inches in diameter. This saurian had ribs 10 feet long and 4 inches thick. It must have been 80 feet in length, and over 35 feet tall, when standing. In the strata of the rocks have been found bones belonging to extraordinary animals and reptiles, such as the extinct Triceratops, which had a skull form 6 to 8 feet long. Scientists have dug up fragments of skeletons of other enormous reptiles of a far-off time when dinosaurs swam the inland seas of this continent. In other localities of Jefferson County have been uncovered the teeth of mastodons and bones of monsters that had their day and disappeared long ago. Morrison also boasts of soda lakes. The mineral salts were leached out of the surrounding formations.
Park of Red Rocks. In the neighborhood of Morrison are many picturesque and romantic features. At a little distance southwest of the town stands Mount Falcon, and winding up its wooded slopes and defiles to its top is a scenic roadway for autos and carriages. It is known as the Mount Falcon High Line Drive. The Indian Burying Ground is an attraction in the fascinating region between Morrison and Golden. Some 3 miles or so to the south, in Turkey Creek Canon, is a tall rock, where, tradition says, an Indian maiden, crossed in love, leaped to her death, followed by her cooper-skinned lover, hence it is called Lovers' Leap. Overlooking the town on the west is the famed Park of Red Rocks, a wonderful aggregation of moss-grown cliffs and massive sandstone formations, with caves and cool grottoes. A mile ride up the Incline Railway to the summit of Mount Morrison (7,900 feet) is a thrilling experience. On this rugged eminence one is favored with enchanting views of the surrounding country.
Other towns in the county are Arvada, Edgewater, Evergreen and Critchell. In the early '60's the noted scout, Jim Baker, lived a short distance east of Arvada, and kept a toll-bridge over Clear Creek. Troutdale, near Evergreen, has idyllic surroundings. Buffaflo and Pine Grove, in the southern part of the county, are adjacent to localities where hunters and fishermen enjoy themselves.
The climate of the foothill district has been much praised. "The moment we enter the foothills," says Berthoud, "the extremes of a continental climate have lost their severe forms, and we reach a delicious blending of continental and Alpine climates, without the rude, unpleasant extremes of either."