Editor's note: This is the final installment in a four-part series of classic Bill May writings. The series concludes today, as does May's weekly column, which has been published in various forms in the Pilot since at least 1989. The entire Steamboat Pilot & Today community wishes to thank May for his years of colorful writing and his tireless dedication to preserving the history of Northwest Colorado. Bill May is truly one of a kind.
p>Yes, friend, I'm a native And I've sure seen some change In our old mountain village And out on the range.
Christmas Eve here on Elk River.
When I was a kid, it was a real highlight when Dad would sign my name as "agent for shipper" on the railroad cattle-shipping contract, which entitled me to ride (in the caboose) on the cattle train to Denver. In Denver I could take my contract to the office of the railroad agent in the Livestock Exchange Building and pick up a free pass to come home on a passenger coach.
Tales from the ranch
The gold rush to the Rockies started in 1859 after the precious metal was discovered in the creekbed sand and gravel at the confluence of Cherry Creek and the South Platte River (the heart of present-day downtown Denver).
Tales from the Ranch
When I was a kid, I guess I wasn't any different than other kids of that day and age. I was enamored by cowboys. Oh, sure, there were plenty of "hands" that worked for Dad, but you know how it is, the ones from "across the fence" are always more glamorous. And, when I think back on it, I do believe that all of the cowboys of that period were more glamorous than any of the ones nowadays.
Until the winter of 1938-39, we had no car bridge across Elk River. In summer, we could go out through the hills with a car, but that route was closed in winter. If we went to town in winter, it was with a team and sled (or, of course, we could catch the stage, which was also sometimes a sled but usually a Model A pickup).
After Frank Groh's first adventurous trip from Leadville to Egeria Park in Routt County, he made preparations as quickly as possible to return to the prettiest place he'd ever seen and stake a homestead.
Here's another story that was passed down by that colorful old cowboy of Hayden, Charlie Temple. Charlie came into this country early - when it was all open range. The typical full-fledged cowboy of those days was apt to be familiar with ranges and cow trails from Vernal to Wolcott and from Rawlins to Rifle. Such was the case with Charlie; so his stories related to people and places all over Routt County, which at that time covered a big part of that 20,000-square-mile area.