Threshing grain, Preston Farm Ziegler machine, c. 1900
A New Comer's Impression
Glowing Description of Fort Collins by a Gentleman Recently from Illinois
Fort Collins Express September 7, 1889, Page 1
Mr. David Nichols, formerly of Bridgeport, Illinois, but now of Fort Collins, writes to the Bridgeport Reporter, under recent date:
"EDITOR REPORTER: Thinking that the folks in your locality would like to know something of Colorado, and knowing that through your columns I could reach them, I have written a little about this celebrated state.
"Three weeks ago Sherman Buchanan and I started West. We had a very pleasant time on our way. On the Tuesday following our departure we arrived in Ft. Collins, a little city of about 3,500 inhabitants situated at the foot of the grand old Rockies, and in the heart of one of the most fertile valleys in the world. We found everything in a flourishing condition, though much later than ours. The valley called, Cache la Poudre Valley, is almost wholly under cultivation. Every piece of land is occupied by some honest, industrious farmer. The cowboy and bucking broncho are very seldom seen here. I expected to see lots of wild people here, but there are none. Indeed, it is as civilized as our state of Illinois. Some people get homesick and go back home in a few days. They never taken an interest in the country and of course have big stories to tell of the wild west; but then they are not really responsible and you can let it go for what its worth. The grains raised here are wheat, oats, corn, rye, barley and buckwheat, all of which yield immense crops. Wheat averages 30 bushels per acre; oats, 60 to 70; and the others in proportion excepting corn, which does not do so well on account of cool nights. The fruit industry will be the greatest thing on record in a few years. All kinds of small fruits are double the size of those in Illinois. The apples are just beginning to bear well and promise to be a great thing. The hay is something curious here; the most abundant is alfalfa, an excellent hay which yields four cuttings and from three to five tons each cutting-from what I have seen and heard, it is the greatest hay for fattening purposes on record. I have helped to put up 120 tons. It looks something like our clover but has a purple blossom, it is very easy to handle and weighs well. The reason this country is such a paradise is because of the irrigation-something which looked curious to me at first, but now as a matter of course. As soon as spring opens, the hay lands are flooded from large canals supplied from the river; then the grains receive a good soaking, which send them forward. There are some who argue that this irrigation is going to cause sickness, but there is nothing in it; everyone's health is excellent. I haven't had such an appetite nor slept so well as now, and my health is better than it has been for years. I have gained seven pounds and am still gaining. Sometimes a young man who comes out here thinks so much about something he has left "down east" that he can't eat or sleep and in about eight days turns up near Bridgeport-but then there is no accounting for the fancies of those young men.
"The educational advantages here are of the best. Here, at Fort Collins, is as fine a college as you will find in our eastern states. It is the State Agricultural college. There are a good line of professors and assistants, who not only conduct the teaching of students, but the experimental work also. The college grounds are beautifully arranged. There is an industrial school in connection with the college, where one can learn any trade desired. The students are all instructed in the manual of arms, drilled daily, and each year an elegant gold medal is awarded to the most proficient. They are on the same footing as the regular troops. The public schools are large and graded. Last year there were 700 pupils enrolled, and their education is very thorough.
"The breeding of fine live stock is quite extensively engaged in here. There is one importer here that goes to England and Scotland twice a year after horses; the most of them are sold in this state, though there are purchasers from California and other states. The mountains are full of game and the streams are full of trout.
"From where I am I can see snow the year round and am only two days' journey with a team from it. As yet I haven't gone much through the mountains, but am going to take a long trip in two weeks. If any of our boys want to find a good country this is where they will find it. There is room for many more, and in a few months I hope to see some of them out here. Tradesman and mechanics can find employment year round at good salaries.
"I have not mentioned the vegetables yet. I saw one cabbage which weighed 120 pounds and am told that 60 to 100 pounds is nothing. One cucumber here is dried and measures seven feet eight inches. This is a great vegetable region and can keep several canning factories going all the time. All I can say is, I can't see why farmers will stay around those poor hills toiling their lives away for nothing, when there is such a valley as this awaiting all who seek shelter, protection and wealth within its limits.