July 08, 2014

Changes in the Neighborhood, 1887 to Now

A. C. (or A. Q.) Monroe's Cash Store, 1887 (Denver Public Library)


I found this photo while researching the Squirrel Creek Lodge series. It was taken not far from where I live. My first thought was that that is more people than live on that road now.

My second thought was, "Maybe not, but the population skewed a lot younger in 1887. The school bus does not even come halfway up the road today."

Here is another photo dated 1887, with the store in the center. Click for a bigger image, and you will see a man sitting in a wagon.
Denver Public Library collection.
Not one of those buildings remains today. In the Teens and Twenties, some new cabins were built there— a little resort catering to the new automobile tourists, called "Greenwood Cabins," I have been told. Some friends have one of the cabins (no heating, no plumbing) on their property and use it as a summertime guest bedroom.

I wonder about the photo dating, though, because in the larger photo, the false front of Monroe's store is not missing a corner.(Update: See comments for probable explanation.)

I was in the area today (a cloudy day) and tried to replicate the photograph, lining up the two little rocky ridges on the hillside behind.

Actually, this is the biggest house on the road, so not typical of the area.
I think the store stood just to the left of the large house, which was built in 1989. There is a cement foundation there too, but I suspect that it is early twentieth-century. Those 1880 buildings were lucky to have a row of rocks in a shallow trench for a foundation.

And what were all those people doing? Ranching (the public land was open and un-managed) and small-scale sawmilling (ditto)? This was not a mining district. There were coal mines and even oil wells in the next county north, about 10–15 miles away, but back then miners usually lived within a mile of the mine and walked to work. There may have been some small dairy operations.

Denver Public Library collection.
One thing has not changed. A lot of backyard target shooting goes on. That is Mr. Monroe (of the store?) fourth from left. I don't recognize any of the surnames, although one of them, Holbert, is the name of a drainage about twenty miles north, as the Mexican spotted owl flies — M. and I found a nesting pair there twenty-two years ago when we were paid by the BLM to census owls.

I am tempted to check these names against the oldest graveyard hereabouts.

And the forest looks a little different too. Put that down to a century-plus of fire suppression and and cessation of local logging. It's mostly private land, with a little BLM at the far left of the ridge.

The burnt tree in the foreground of today's photograph is a relic of the 2,500-acre fire in 2012 that cleared away most of the houses on that side of the road.

Now there is a row of concrete foundations there for visitors of the future to wander among and wonder about.

3 comments:

NN Bartley said...

Just guessing but it looks like the top photo was damaged. Maybe the false front didn't ever have a chunk out of it, maybe the picture was torn and then restored.
I'm loving these walks through history.

Mark Lewis said...

That was my thought as well. It is the picture itself that is/was damaged, and not the actual store front. I've seen a lot of this type damage when doing genealogy research.

Chas Clifton said...

NN, Mark -- You both could well be right -- damage to the photo, not the building. Thanks for writing.