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Remembering Joe Cogan

By Suzy Kelly

What can you say about Joe Cogan? Everything. Joe left us on Saturday November 2, 2020 and there is a big hole in the hearts of his family and many friends.
I was behind Joe at the Buena Vista schools as he graduated in 1952 and I was in grade school. When I started writing history about the area, forty years ago, I found that Joe was my history book, dictionary, thesaurus and encyclopedia. What great stories he remembered, having lived here his whole life, and his father and grandfather’s stories too were part of his knowledge. Luckily Joe recorded and then printed some of these stories. Joe came from a big family of four sisters and two brothers plus uncles and aunts from his grandfather Jeremiah Cogan’s family.
Riding with Joe or taking him with you provided the greatest information for the area wherever you went. Riding in Four Mile Recreation Area, Bassam Park, Chalk Creek or Granite, wherever you ended up you learned history about each area. We rode around his Chubb Park ranch, where he put in a conservation easement, and he pointed out where the homestead had been. He also showed us where the railroad beds for the Denver South Park and the Midland railroads came through Chubb Park.
Joe was an original member of the Jeep Patrol. (now Search and Rescue) He knew where and how to get to places where people were lost, and the best way to reach them. Even when he couldn’t hike into the mountains to work with the team he still went to the base setup for the rescues. His great knowledge and advice was invaluable for the team. And getting hot coffee and sandwiches for them was one thing he could still do.
He had funny stories and sad ones. Looking back through the “Where Is It” columns from the Chaffee County Times, I think Joe answered half of them. He told me not to put his name in so much! He was quick to point out my mistakes too. He almost always had something to add to the story. He talked about Harry and Henry Littlejohn and their mine in Pine Creek and how, though small men, they could lift and carry large bags of ore. Cogan’s had a grazing lease in Pine Creek. As a kid he had visited with his dad the site of the hut of Ho Hoy, the Chinese man that Chinaman Gulch is named for, located near Trout Creek, east of Buena Vista. He remembered Viola Sallee, a woman in Buena Vista who ended up in an institution in Pueblo after shooting at her neighbor. (She missed, Joe says).
Joe loved his ranch, his family, and all his cows, horses and dogs. As his body failed him he gave up his horse for a four wheeler. He knew most of the irrigation ditches in the valley and who owned them and how well or poorly they used their water. He was an excellent fisherman and knew all the good holes on the Arkansas River, especially where it ran through his property.
Joe’s love of the area and the people here showed in his warm personality and great sense of humor. He was kind and considerate but set in his ways. He was strong and tough but not a bully, even though at his prime he was still a big, strong man. He would help out a neighbor and befriend a kid. He would speak at events whenever he could. Some great tapes of his talks are with the Buena Vista Heritage Museum from events there and at the Turner Farm.
I will miss him more than I can say as time goes on and I have more questions and no one to answer them and tease me and correct me. Rest in Peace Joe, and if you see Bryce tell him “howdy.”

Suzy Kelly is a long-time resident of Buena Vista, prolific historian, author, artist, friend to all, and misses all the old timers.