Cattle moving on Jefferson Street, c. 1880

News Flashbacks

Problems in 1881: Beer Gardens and Cows

by Dick Baker

Triangle Review, 1974

Cattle moving on Jefferson Street, c. 1880

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.

Still railroad excitement; grading by the Union Pacific and Burlington Missouri was being done in Poudre Canyon. The present highway up the canyon still uses some of the original grade. Other problems confronting the citizenry in '81 included Sunday beer gardens and the pollution of the city's domestic water. Newspaper "letters" from the readers were something as they came out in the form of a special supplement and were long and elegant. In one were confined to their businesses all week and needed recreation on the Lord's Day. But it went to great length in explaining why the recreation should be of more "supplement concerning the beer garden problem, the writer states he was well aware of the plea made by our young men with saintly pursuits."

In 1881, boys were paid a fee to take the citizen's livestock out to the edge of town to pasture and then, at day's end, return them to their respective owners. However the owners, instead of returning them to the corral, were inclined to allow the stock to roam. A great many bossys and dobbins did their roaming up and down the irrigation laterals which ran down the sides of the city's streets. Some of the citizens paid 5 cents per barrel dipped from the Cache la Poudre at the College Avenue bridge. The river was clear and sparkling in those days. However, as pointed out by one irate citizen, many people could not afford to buy water from the water wagon and used ditch water for domestic purposes. Thus the cry and subsequent livestock to roam the city streets.

The two story brick structure (recently destroyed by fire) at the corner of Pine and Jefferson Streets was completed in 1882. Lake Park addition was plotted and contained 42 blocks and 160 lots that covered 177 acres. The west portion was part of the Emigh farm. Every lot carried a water right. There was an 8 acre artificial lake which was in front of present Fort Collins High. The lake was surrounded by a broad circular drive lined with trees. Some of the trees remained until a few years ago. The lake often returns during a heavy rain.

Now to go back to Fort Collins second railroad. For a second time, Fort Collins citizens were called on to raise more right-of-way money which they did at a meeting at Wilson's Hall on Jefferson Street. There was talk of building the line to Laramie and making it a Union Pacific line. The logic being that it would cut out the heavy Sherman Hill grade between Cheyenne and Laramie. Work was completed to a point near Fort Collins on the Greeley-Fort Collins line in September of 1882. There the workmen went on strike, swearing that they would no longer work for one named Murphy. Fortunately, the strikers struck on Sunday, and upon hitting the town found all saloons closed. Thus all that resulted was loud talk.

Strange to say, the arrival of the first train did not seem to cause much excitement. Perhaps the public realized it was not to be a through line and were soured. The Weekly Courier, in fact did not even write their own story but copied from the Greeley paper which contained the following: "The first excursion and first passenger train ever run over the Greeley, Salt Lake and Pacific railway was from Greeley to Collins Sunday."(Oct. 8, 1882.) The train left Greeley at 9 a.m. and arrived in Fort Collins at noon. The small, party of passengers had their noon meal at the Tedmon House. It is interesting to note that the date of arrival was exactly five years to the day after the arrival of the very first train into Fort Collins. Also the year date differs from that given in The History of Larimer County by Watrous. Watrous places the date as 1883. At this time the Greeley, Salt Lake and Pacific also built a narrow gauge road from Boulder to Sunset, a distance of 13 miles.

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