Gillett, Colorado: Not such a sharp idea

IN TELLER COUNTER, THE ABANDONED town site of Gillett lies just beyond Cripple Creek and Divide, near the intersection of County Roads 67 and 81 (Lazy S Ranch Road). It looks uninteresting, amounting to nothing more than a field with a couple of modern homes near the road. Gillett began as a simple log cabin. …

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Victor: The End of the Road

By Mike Rosso

Victor, Colorado, is not on the way to anywhere else. To get there requires dedicated purpose.

Those arriving for the first time will discover a time capsule of a town, a place that seems left behind from the modern world, yet still occupied by a hearty citizenry, who seem to prefer living at the proverbial end of the road.

The discovery of gold in the region in 1890 led to the creation of Victor in 1891, the “City of Mines,” along with neighboring Cripple Creek. At its peak around the turn of the century, there were nearly 18,000 residents in Victor and it was once the fourth-largest city in Colorado, but after World War I, the town saw a steep decline due to a labor war, depleted ore and the exodus of miners. The 2010 census has the town at around 397 souls.

In 1985, Victor was designated a national historic district, which led to the arrival of tourists. In 1991 Colorado voters allowed for legalized gambling to occur in certain towns in Colorado and nearby Cripple Creek became one of them, but the residents of Victor opted out, which is one of the reasons the town has maintained its charm and not become an old West facade for casinos like its neighbor to the northwest. Many employees of Cripple Creek’s casinos call Victor home. The Cripple Creek and Victor Mine still operates near town and is the largest current producer of gold in Colorado.

Walking the streets of the town, one is struck by the historic architecture, some of it crumbling, and some in the process of restoration. There is no Starbucks here, but evidence of its mining past is everywhere, in and on the outskirts of town. 

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Jack Haverly’s Towns for Suckers

By Jan MacKell Collins

“Jack Haverly, Jack Haverly I wonder where you are. Are your fortunes cast with Sirius, or ‘neath some kindlier star?” – “Memories of Jack Haverly” by Eugene Field, the New York Times circa 1901

We all know certain people in our lives who never seem to hold onto their money, no matter how much they make. During the 1800s, Jack Haverly was just such a person.

Born Christopher Heverly in Pennsylvania in 1837, the budding capitalist first began working his way up in the world by selling peanuts and candy on passenger trains. He went on to work as a “baggage smasher” for the railroads and also as a tailor’s apprentice before finding where his heart truly belonged: the theatre.

Haverly’s first variety theatre, complete with a saloon, opened in Toledo, Ohio in 1864. As it turned out, Haverly made a great showman. His first performing troupe at the theatre, “Haverly’s Minstrels,” drew record crowds. A misspelling on a poster changed his last name, and he became known in entertainment circles as Jack Haverly.

Shortly after Haverly’s Minstrels debuted, Haverly acquired various partners and began taking his shows on the road. His travels took him across America and north to Canada. Along the way he married one of his showgirls, Sara Hechsinger of the famous Duval Sisters. When Sara died in 1867, he married her sister Eliza.

For over a decade, Haverly bought and sold numerous theaters and headed up an amazing thirteen performing troupes. He seldom had trouble finding investors, even as he became known as a compulsive gambler and speculator who sometimes threw his money away as quickly as he made it. He also had a bad habit of filing for bankruptcy, yet somehow always managed to stay afloat. Newspapers lost count of his failings and resurrections, but his friends never hesitated to loan him money when he needed it. They knew he would pay it back the next time fortune smiled upon him again.

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Book Review

Rescue in Poverty Gulch

Historical Fiction for Ages 8 and up

By Nancy Oswald

Filter Press, paperback, 185 pp, $8.95


Reviewed by Annie Dawid

The first in a new series by Cotopaxi author Nancy Oswald, Rescue in Poverty Gulch will delight children who get their hands on this book as well as the adults who read it to youngsters. Oswald’s stories appeal to readers in search of lively characters and rich local history.

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George Wade Foott – Art, Artifacts … and Whitewater

Ever since we took over the reins of this magazine last March we’d been hoping to do a profile on George Foott. His wonderfully realistic historic paintings and his legendary boating skills — skills he was still developing well into his late 60s — were an inspiration to many in a variety of intersecting circles in Colorado.

Then suddenly, he was gone, a victim of the melanoma which had metastasized and quickly took George on December 17, 2009 at the age of 70.

Rather than write a tribute to the man ourselves we sought out some of his old friends, kayaking buddies and business associates and asked them to tell us about George in their own words. We thank them for their memories and contributions. — M. Rosso

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