||In 1860, Cache Creek above Granite became the first
settlement of note
in the upper Ark Valley, starting with a population of about 300 and
exploding to 3,000 the next year. The placer included a three-mile
stretch of river, plus two-miles up Cache Creek. The Post Office here
functioned until 1872.
California Gulch, where it was said "the bottom of the pan looked like
all of California," became the richest placer in Colorado and the site
of Oro City near present-day Leadville. Horace Tabor and wife Augusta
were among the first in the area along with Otto Mears and Charles
Prompted by the gold rush, Colorado Territory was established in 1861.
When Civil War broke out in the East, Colorado declared for the Union.
The Battle of Glorieta Pass in present-day New Mexico was fought in 1862
in part to protect Colorado gold from falling into the hands of the Confederacy.
||By 1863, the Ute Indians had relinquished their
ancestral lands along
the front range and had agreed to move west of the Continental Divide
as the pressure of settlement continued. Horace Tabor, who later
win and lose a fortune in silver, moved his grocery store to Buckskin
Joe near Alma in South Park where gold yields were bigger than at Oro
City. Francois "Frank" Mayol, a Frenchman, also moved out
of Oro City,
coming down the valley to homestead a site 8 miles north of
present-day Buena Vista in the area now known as Riverside.
Meanwhile Nat Rich and others were panning for gold in the Little
Arkansas near present-day Poncha Springs. Father John L. Dyer, who
preached and prospected in California Gulch now was assigned South
Park as his parish, which included all of Lake County. The Methodist
circuit rider became known as "The Snow-Shoe itinerant."
||The first farms and ranches in the upper Arkansas Valley appeared
along Cottonwood Creek with water rights to 1864 belonging to Andrew
Bard, Frank Loan, J. E. Gonell, William Bale and John McPherson.
Benjamin Schwanders homesteaded on the east bank of the Arkansas
at Trout Creek.The clash of cultures between pioneers and Indians flared
up in 1864
with regrettable consequences at the Sand Creek Massacre of Cheyenne
Indians near Bent's Old Fort.
|| In 1865, Ute Indians battled plains Indians in South Park
and returned victorious with scalps, which frightened the settlers in Brown's
|Otto Mears became self-employed in Conejos
County, CO, in the San Luis Valley Within one year he had a store, saw mill,
grist mill and wheat farm. To get his products to the booming Leadville
market, he built a toll road north over Poncha Pass to Lake
Discouraged miners vacate mining camps and begin to establish farms and
ranches on the upper Arkansas.
|| In 1867, free quartz gold was discovered on the east side
of the river
at present-day Granite. A stamp mill was erected and the seat of Lake
County was moved from Dayton above Twin Lakes to Granite. The same
year Otto Mears built a toll road over Poncha Pass to bring grain
the San Luis Valley to market in the mining towns.
||By 1868, the Ute Indians had been
persuaded to move to the western
slope leaving behind attractive areas for settlement. As
transportation increased over Poncha Pass, John McPherson moved from
the Cottonwoood Creek area to today's Poncha Springs and opened the
first Post Office called South Arkansas. (South Arkansas retained the
name until 1877 when it was changed to Poncho Springs, then changed
again to Poncha Springs in the 1920s.)
With an increase in mining activity again at California Gulch, Horace
and Augusta Tabor returned from Alma and set up shop. At the same
time, Joseph Hutchinson became a manager of operations at Cache Creek
and married John McPherson's daughter Annabel.Settlement continued.
||George Harrington, an Englishman,
homesteaded a ranch and ran a store
at Centerville. (The original house still stands to the west of Hwy
The Adobe Park area north of present-day Salida was settled by Thomas
Cameron, who dug a long irrigation ditch from the Arkansas River. The
Camerons were related to the Boons of South Park and grazed cattle
over the Arkansas Hills and around Cameron Mountain, which was named
Charles Nachtrieb built a water-powered gristmill at the mouth of
Chalk Creek. Soon he was grinding wheat that was shipped from Saguache
by Otto Mears. Next year Nachtrieb added a sawmill.
|The end of panning and sluicing for gold by traditional
methods in the Upper Arkansas Watershed