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Happy 2011!

One hundred years ago, the Eagle Valley Enterprise  noted in an editorial [“Growth and Prosperity,” Dec. 30, 1910] that agriculture was finally coming into its own through a combination of water (irrigation) and science.  The pioneers who came west to “wrest a fortune from the mountains by mining” ended up finding greener (easier?) gold in the fields and pastures of Eagle County.  “Development of Eagle County’s agricultural possibilities to the vast extent of the present has been a source of wonder.”

Stacking hay on the Chester Mayer Ranch (Eagle, Colorado), now the Eagle Ranch subdivision on Brush Creek. The hay was lifted to the top of the stack by a ”Mormon Derrick,” a weight and pulley arrangement using a crane. The derrick is in the center of the photo with horse teams and rakes ”pushing” hay to the loading area.

The then County Assessor, Nick Buchholz, reporting from the county seat in Red Cliff on December 31, 1910, noted a marked increase in the total valuation of the county over any previous year.  He cited:  17,724 acres of agricultural land ($242,510); 58,787 acres grazing land ($109,345); 2,205 horses (459,580); 5 mules ($100); 12,422 Cattle ($126,080); 12,705 sheep ($19,057); and 205 swine ($1,035). I’m concerned about the low mule count, actually, given that so many were used in the mines.  The value of sheep vs. cattle is also confusing…cattle are heavier than sheep and the valuation was by the pound?

Dad Wellington and grandson, John Wellington, seated in buckboard. They are delivering mail to the Edwards depot. Pete, the donkey, is doing the heavy lifting.

The town valuations speak volumes, especially in that there are only four towns listed:  Red Cliff  $53,648; Minturn $23,506; Eagle $59,155; and Basalt $30,536.  It appears obvious that the older Eagle County communities still relied heavily on railroad property and mining for valuation which was assessed higher than agricultural property. It was interesting to note in Mr. Buchholz’ report that there were 111 musical instruments valued at $8,525; 126 watches valued at $1,030; and 515 vehicles valued at $10,925.  Household property was valued at $21,595.  In other news from December 30, 1910:  “The thermometer on J. M. Witterman’s place used by the government registered sixteen degrees below zero last Monday night.  The weather has been moderating throughout the week.” “John Buchholz is preparing to start cutting ice next week.  Get your ice house ready and have it fitted while weather conditions are good.” “A hot air furnace was installed in the home of L. Schwarz this week.” As we begin 2011 in Eagle County, a century removed from 1911, it’s comforting to see a few things remain the same, weather being one.

Wiltshire-Eaton House, Beaver-Creek, looking west. Bunkhouse is to left of the family house.


The thought of hauling a piano out West on a wagon is daunting; I'm sure a piano would think so, as well!

Fascinatin' as always!

Interesting that musical instruments and watches were counted, along with the animals!!!! Carolyn Macdonell

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