Ever heard of Mace's Hole? How about the town of Beulah? Both are in Colorado and take up close to the same space. So what was Mace's Hole?
|Town of Beulah, CO taken from south facing mountains|
The earliest notation of the name Mace's Hole, is on a map drawn up in 1851 by Richard H. Kern for the territory of New Mexico. This map notes the area as Masa's Hole, and at this time the area was still considered part of New Mexico, being south of the Arkansas River boundary line. It retained the name Mace's Hole until Colorado became a state in 1876 when it was renamed Beulah.
Even Juan Mace is still a shadowy character. Very little is known about him and his activities. Local papers would tell his story, but they do not always agree. In 1877, the Pueblo Chieftain wrote that he operated with but one assistant. The idea that he had a gang was attributed to letters he would leave with various people on the plains outside the hole. With each telling of the story, it becomes wilder and larger in the telling. For a round up of stories, the book "From Mace's Hole, the way it was, to Beulah, the way it is" is a good option.
There is also the story of a Confederate group who used the hole as a place to plan their attack and capture gold that was being pulled out of the goldfields in Colorado Territory. Was this the Reynolds Gang that had splintered off from the Confederacy or in fact an organized troop? According to an article in Colorado Encyclopedia, southern Colorado was strongly in favor of the Confederacy, and a number of them gathered in the Hole. They were captured in November of 1861. For more in this chapter in Mace's Hole and Colorado History you can visit: Confederates in Mace's Hole
For more reading on this storied area, there are public domain books that make for fun reading. Here is a list of two that can be found on Google Books: