We find all sorts of interesting things when walking in Eagle County. Many people are amazed at how much mining equipment is still out there, abandoned, for example. John Martinez, a resident of Red Cliff, found a metal sign for “The Ten Mile Mercantile Co.” while walking along the railroad tracks some years ago now.
The sign was turned over to the Red Cliff Museum but without any context or provenance. Neither Diana Cisneros nor Angela Beck, both of Red Cliff, was familiar with the name of the Company so it was time to do a little research. One of the best places to find information about Colorado businesses is at the Colorado State Archives. I started the search on the Archives’ website: http://www.colorado.gov/dpa/doit/archives/ I found the “Colorado Historical Records Index” and noted that it included the “Incorporation Index (1861—1914).” Wonderful! On the first attempt, searching under “Ten Mile Mercantile,” the index brought up three entries, all Incorporation Records from September 17, 1896. Following the instructions, I emailed my request for copies of these documents to get a price estimate for the research and copies. The emailed response from the Archives noted a $30.00 fee per name to search for corporate information, with three pages of copy work included, additional pages assessed $1.25 per page. I submitted my payment on September 20 and on October 9, I received the incorporation papers for the Ten Mile Mercantile Co. … without driving to Denver to pick them up.
As the papers state, the company formed in order to carry on a general merchandise business and was funded by capital stock of $16,000, to be divided into sixteen thousand shares of one dollar for each share. It was to exist for twenty years and was to be under the control of a Board of Directors (Asa G. Swem, John W. Colcord and H. C. Van Schaack) during the first year. What was interesting to note was the company’s location: Kokomo, Colorado. In Maxine Benson’s 1001 Colorado Place Names, p. 114, we learn: “Kokomo (Summit County) Established by town promoter-miner Amos Smith and others north of Leadville in 1879, Kokomo was probably named for Smith’s Indiana home town. Next door, the prospecting Recen brothers—Andrew, Henry, and Daniel—platted their town of Recen. After fire swept through Kokomo in 1881, the burned-out residents soon rebuilt in Recen, bringing with them the post office name of Kokomo [established on May 5, 1879]. Much to the dismay of the Recens, the town became known as Kokomo-Recen or just Kokomo, even though it was actually on the site of Recen. Today the controversy is moot, for the entire area is now covered with tailings from the Molybdenum mine at Climax. [Post Office May 5, 1879—October 8, 1965]” We don’t know how the sign ended up in Eagle County where it was found by Mr. Martinez. Thanks to the Colorado State Archives, we do know that the company was dissolved in 1913 for failure to pay franchise taxes and file annual reports for two consecutive years. The sign is currently displayed at the Eagle Library and will return to the Red Cliff Museum in the spring.