The Early Settlers

In 1881, most of the Ute Indian land in our area was open to homesteading. Settlers discovered the area was full of natural resources; including minerals and water (a very important necessity to the settlers).

The first settlers came with not only their loaded wagons but their herds of cattle as well. Many cattle ranchers would turn their herds to open range for the winter and a cabin on Rock Creek served as a resting point for the men on their journey. Once the river would freeze over, they would use it as a road to drive the cattle to and from. The harsh winters caused the settlers to quickly learn to cope and be resourceful during the unpredictable weather. Unfortunately, due to the continual struggle some of the homesteaders did not survive and their tombstones can still be found at the McCoy cemetery.

The area also attracted hunters and trappers who came for the vast wildlife that provided them with meat and hides. As a source of income, they would sell their extra meat to the markets in the surrounding cities. At this time there were no restrictions or laws on hunting & selling to markets. This caused mass hunting and by 1910 many of the herds had been eliminated. Eventually, laws were created by the State Game Commission to control hunting and elk were brought in from Wyoming to build up the population.

Charles McCoy, an early settler, was initially attracted to mining in the Leadville area but he finally settled on Sheephorn Creek; the availability of water and the range land attracted him to the area. It was up to the early settlers to build their houses, clear the land, cut trees & build fences. It was hard work done mainly by hand, with the occasional help from horses.

They worked together to build their lives in the mountains and make our area what it is today.