by Dick Baker
Triangle Review, 1974
Editor's Note: This article is part of a series of 15 articles which will trace the development of Fort Collins and Loveland through "the elegant '80s." The research was compiled by historian Dick Baker, a retired city official whose grandfather was mayor of Fort Collins.
In the fourth year of the Elegant Eighties, the first important decision reached involved the inmates of the city jail. Where prisoners had been allowed $1 per day for meals (a good fare for those days), now all prisoners would dine on bread and water. The Loveland artesian well being drilled by a Fort Collins firm after successfully "fishing for tools" had pounded to a depth of 335 feet and there was still evidence of oil. Coal in Fort Collins was $6 per ton and hard to get because of the shortage of railway cars. Citizens were indignant because coal at the Erie mines north of Denver only cost $2 per ton. The freight added $2.25 and the rest was profit to the coal dealers. Thus, the Home Coal Mining Co. was formed.
They immediately started testing for coal in the Fort Collins area. This company soon had a test hole at Farrar Lake and promised the public they could count upon them striking a good grade of coal at 60 feet. Soon after coal was struck some 10 miles north of Fort Collins, which has been mined with varying success up until a few years ago. Most of the mining enthusiasm was lost when the local coal dealers cut their prices. The going industry of the area was the stone quarries at Stout. The main operator at the Stout site was the Union Pacific Railroad which kept a force of 200 men at work. Most of the stone was used for building bridges, stations and roundhouses on the Union Pacific's new line called the Oregon Short Line. These quarry men were a tough lot. The following story is given as an illustration: A man came down from Stout on the train through Fort Collins and landed at Greeley at noon. When he got off the train, he was considerably under the influence of liquor. He stayed about the depot and vicinity making a big nuisance of himself. Toward evening he seemed to become more intoxicated. When the night Denver train arrived, he climbed aboard and got very ugly. Finally, he took the poker, heated it red hot at the stove and drove all the passengers out of that car. Both doors were locked by the train men, and he was left the sole occupant. When the train reached Denver, it was found he had jumped through the window, taking the sash with him. A locomotive and car was dispatched and he was found a few miles back, near the track uninjured.