Change can be a scary thing. However, it can often bring about positive results. Take it from me, a guy raised in the Midwest who had never been west of Kearney, Nebraska. That all changed when I accepted a job with the Eagle Valley Library District. Having been out here for three and a half months, I can definitely say I made the right choice!
Since 2001, the library has partnered with the Eagle County Historical Society to recognize individuals whose work has helped preserve the history of Eagle County through the Nimon-Walker Award.
When I took over our Local History department, I remember thinking, How can the library give such a specific award every year? There’s really someone in the area every single year that has done something amazing for local history? Wait, that many people are interested in local history?
The answer became very clear: a resounding yes.
For those of us living in rural areas, the U.S. Postal Service has been a tie to the outside world. In Eagle County, those ties were first supported by stage coach and rider deliveries, later railroad deliveries, and more recently by truck. Whatever the means employed, small rural post offices kept miners, ranchers and families in touch with relatives and business partners. Not a small feat. It continues today. Enter the “21st Century Postal Service Act of 2012,” announced in 2011. In an effort to offset operational losses of the last few years, the Postal Service considered closing many small, rural post offices. For Eagle County, that meant Red Cliff, Bond and Burns were on the possible closure list. Diana Cisneros, Postmaster, Red Cliff, July 2011
Memorial Day is a traditional time for cemetery cleaning and grave decorating. Usually the snow in Eagle County is gone by then and caretakers are resuming custodial care of grounds. Cemeteries share grief, respect and stories. The stories of those buried make up local history and cemeteries are open records, documenting the lives in a community. With westward expansion in the 19th century, cemeteries followed settlement. While still showing respect, early western cemeteries were much more practical than those in the eastern United States. Many were not watered gardens, water being scarce, and many were not associated with a church, those also being scarce at first. [caption id="attachment_462" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Baby Bailey 1896-1897, one of five graves on County Road 39, 4 miles northwest of the Burns Post Office[/caption]
As you approach McCoy via State Bridge on Hwy 131 (just past the Copper Spur Rd.), look to the left. On the Colorado River, you will see the answer to moving irrigation water onto hay and alfalfa fields 100 yards uphill from the river bottom—the Brooks Water Wheel. The wheel is one of several such devices built at this spot. In 1910, when the surrounding ranch was owned by George Bailey, a wooden wheel was in place and gave the ranch its name: the Water Wheel Ranch. When Earle Brooks purchased the ranch from the next owner, John Quinlan, on Nov. 10, 1919, he also applied for three cubic feet of water per second rights from the Colorado River to the water wheel ditch. These were granted in 1923. Before these augmented rights were granted, Brooks had built a ranch house, bridge and metal wheel.
Travelers headed west on I-70, between the 136 and 135 mile markers, notice a small log cabin, roof caving in, on the north side of the highway. Looking more closely, which does involve stopping and walking through brush, there are actually several structures at this site, approximately two miles east of Dotsero.