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The old waterworks that was built in 1882 on Overland Trail
The old waterworks that was built in 1882 on Overland Trail

Fort Collins in 1882 - Hot times in the old town

by Dick Baker

In 1882 the Fort Collins town marshal conducted a raid on the "coon dive"(a term used in old newspapers) and all female inmates were fined $50.

At or near the Bonanza Saloon that same year, a white man and a black engaged in quarrel in which shots were fired. The "degenerate" son of Ham," as the paper put it, took to his heels.

More gun play. A man by the name of Murray working for the Greeley, Salt Lake and Pacific Railroad under a section foreman by the name of Dailey became dissatisfied, quit work, and demanded his money.

Dailey, wishing to complete the job at hand, tried to put him off for a short time. Murray, then became abusive, secured a pistol and opened fire on Dailey.

This would have proven fatal to the person of Mr. Dailey except for the presence of a Mr. Purcell who grabbed Murray's arm and caused the shots to go astray.

Bystanders bore the person of one Murray to the ground and disarmed him with dispatch.

The stone quarries, railroad construction, tie drives and mines of North Park and Middle Park created booming times.

Many people, all not Sunday school prospects, drifted to Fort Collins.

A large number of the populace seemed to carry revolvers. The results were many fights and some shootings.

Thus, it was not strange that when "The boys" came to town to celebrate that they had become victims of thieves and organized gangs of robbers.

In 1882, the citizens voted 268 to 44 in favor of a waterworks system. This created a bonded indebtedness of $85,000 which was increased to $105,000 after work was started.

The water works vote was greatly influenced by the great number of fires that occurred in the early eighties. Hardly a week went by that there was not a conflagration.

Some of these fires were of disastrous proportions. Many were the result of the saloons setting up drinks to those who volunteered to fight the fires.

The volunteers were always at the right place at the right time.

However, three men certainly earned their drinks at the Grange Hall fire. When spurred by excitement they performed the Hurculean feat of removing a 1,200 lb. safe and depositing safely in the middle of College Avenue.

At the new opera house, considerable complaint was heard when--at a performance of the Salsbury Troubadors--four inmates of the "coon dive" occupied front seats. Three of their whiter, but equally frail sisters, occupied the front box much to the disgust of some of the "more respectable" spectators.

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