A Voice of Colorado Version 2018 No. 434

Although progress has altered and destroyed much of the history in the Estes Valley much has been preserved and documented.

For example, the lower portion of Fish Creek Road in Estes Park, which once encompassed the original Joel Estes – Griff Evans Ranch, which was enlarged by the Earl of Dunraven and his manager, Theodore Whyte. In the late 1940s the road was moved and raised to make way for the Big Thompson River dam project to create Lake Estes as part of the Colorado – Big Thompson transmountain irrigation project. Despite the dramatic alterations a historical record of the original road was established, allowing insight into what Joel Estes and Griff Evans intended for their property.


A Voice of Colorado Version 2018 No. 412

In the 1890s a Loveland businessman named Frank Bartholf acquired land located at the confluence of the Big Thompson River and the North Fork of the Big Thompson, and built a homestead cabin with the intention of using it as a base operation for his ranch. Locals referred to the property as “The Forks”. The stepson of Mariano Medina, Louis Papa, was employed to manage the cattle Bartholf kept on the property.

Although the cattle operation was successful there were other opportunities for Mr. Bartholf. In 1903 bids were posted for a road to be constructed through the Big Thompson Canyon because the only viable road at the time went from Loveland to Pinewood Park to Bald Mountain, and on to Estes Park, and access to the lower portion of the Big Thompson Canyon was limited to a dangerous, steep, single-lane wagon road that descended Dickson Gulch and continued through the canyon by way of Cedar Cove. The ascent and descent were more than five hundred in less than two miles.

After the new road was completed The Narrows provide a level route with a constant grade and one that allowed for automobile traffic from Loveland to Estes Park.

Anticipating business Mr. Bartholf built the Forks Hotel around the existing cabin on his property, and named the locale “Drake” for Colorado State Senator William A. Drake of Larimer County, who helped Mr. Bartholf secure a post office for the locale. The post office was located inside of the Forks Hotel.

With the establishing of the community Mr. Bartholf also requested and secured a post office, which was located inside his hotel. The first postmistress for Drake was Mr. Bartholf’s daughter, Ella Van Bramer.

The hotel proved a success because horse-drawn stages and carriages often stopped for meals at the restaurant and the livery provided fresh horses.

Despite his accomplishment Mr. Bartholf did not remain in the hotel business. In 1906 Frank Alderdyce bought the hotel and became the postmaster for Drake.

In 1912 Enoch J. (Joe) Mills, the brother of well-known naturalist Enos Mills, managed the Forks Hotel for Mr. Alderdyce, and found inspiration for his own business. In time Mr. Mills and his wife built The Crags, which is located on the north side of Prospect Mountain above Estes Park, CO.

Over the years the Forks Hotel was sold again and again, and in 1973 the post office was moved to its own building.

In 1973 the Big Thompson flood destroyed many homes and motels in the Drake, including most of the cabins belonging to the Forks Hotel. The hotel was unscathed.

The Forks Hotel remains in business today, under the name of “The River Forks Inn”, and has been added to twice.

A Voice of Colorado Version 2018 No. 112

Although Native Americans who lived in the northern part of present-day Colorado preferred to locate their dead on platforms in trees burials done in the ground have been discovered north and east of Marianna Butte, near the Big Thompson River near present-day Loveland, CO.

A Voice of Colorado Version 2018 No. 94

Mariano Medina, who lived on the Big Thompson River in the Loveland, CO. area in the 1800s, recalled Sioux hunting parties crossing the Big Thompson River and being encountered in the Poudre Valley area in the early 1860s.

A Voice of Colorado Version 2018 No. 48

Northern Colorado has been home to many cultures and people, including the Shoshone.

The Shoshone may have entered present-day Colorado by a northeastern passage as determined through ceramic evidence from the Echo Cave archaeological site near the Big Thompson River and from the Roberts Buffalo Jump and T-W Diamond sites in northeastern Larimer County.

These discoveries suggest that the Intermountain Tradition preceded the Shoshone, as proto-Shoshonean culture, originating about AD 1000 before becoming what is now considered historical Shoshone by AD 1760.

Like many other population the Shoshone acquired horses early in their civilizations, and subsequently dominated the northern Plains of Colorado in the 1740s until other tribes obtained guns, which were used to drive the Shoshone into the central Rocky Mountains.

A Voice of Colorado Version 2018 No. 44

Northern Colorado has been home to many cultures and people, including the Ute.

To the west of the Rocky Mountains in what would become the State of Colorado, in the Four Corners area, by 1300 AD Ute were present, and would spread north and east through the mountains over the next two centuries.

Using linguistic analysis it is believed that the Shoshonean branch of Uto-Aztecan speakers spread from Death Valley in what is now California, across the Great Basin beginning around AD 1000. Over time this population split into three divisions. The modern Shoshone belong to Mono-Bannock division and the Ute belong to the Ute-Chemehuevis division.

Before 1880 the territory occupied by Eastern Ute bands such as the Parusanuch and Yampa extended from the White and Yampa River valleys of western Colorado to North and Middle Park in central Colorado, including what now constitutes Rocky Mountain National Park.

Within present-day Larimer County Ute ceramics have been discovered near Red Feather Lakes, northeast of Fort Collins, and near Drake, on the Big Thompson River.

A Voice of Colorado Version 2018 No. 36

Northern Colorado has been home to many cultures and people, including the Arapaho.

The history of the Arapaho Nation, an Algonquian-speaking people, is unclear, but it is accepted that at one time they lived in northern Minnesota and southern Manitoba, and migrated south and west as part of their hunting and gathering culture. Studies and analysis of their language suggests that they may have separated from other Algonquian-speaking populations at least one thousand years ago.

The Arapaho people may have established their presence on the northern plains as early as 1650 and migrated southward toward the Missouri River by the end of the 1790s. Those who went southward became known as “Arapaho” and those who remained to the north became clearly identified as “Gros Ventre”, or ‘Atsinsa’.

Scholars disagree when the second split in the nation occurred, resulting in the accepted Northern and Southern Arapaho. One school of thought holds that this division happened around the time of the construction of Bent’s Fork on the Arkansas River in the 1830s, and was motivated by hunting preference – the North Platte or the Arkansas Rivers.

Some scholars assert that the division came about because of the 1851 Laramie Treaty. This may be more accurate because in the 1860s the bands of Chief Left Hand (also known as Niwot), a Southern Arapaho, and Chief Friday, a Northern Arapaho, hunted along the Poudre River in northern Colorado and the Big Thompson River near present-day Loveland, CO., and the identifying of the groups was not noted in the 1851 treaty – it was a matter of choice. Regardless of the cause in time the northern bands were relocated to a reservation in Wyoming and the southern bands were sent to Oklahoma.