post by Doris McCraw
writing as Angela Raines
|View of one of many Colorado Mountain Ranges|
photo property of the author
First a little background. One of the first places I spent any amount of time in when I first arrived in Colorado, was the Taylor Park area. It was while exploring this area north of Gunnison, Colorado, that I developed a love of ghost towns and searching them out. It was there I first visited Pie Plant, Tin Cup and the area surrounding Taylor Park reservoir. I devoured Robert L Brown's books on Colorado's ghost towns, some of the early guide books available in the 1970s. Some of the other towns in that area, according to the signs I remember seeing, were Abbeyville, Hillerton, Forest Hill.
|From Western Mining History|
I can hear you ask, why Tin Cup to honor Taylor? Well, it seems when Taylor bent to rinse his tin cup, he saw flakes of gold in the water. The story gets a bit murky here, as it was another twenty years before mining actually started in the area. There are other stories that say Taylor carried the gold back in his tin cup in that year of 1859, and that placer mining took place until 1879 when a lode deposit was found.
|Tin Cup today, from http://www.tincupco.com/|
So why did I include Virginia City, as it was known during the time frame of the novel, in my story? Well, it was known as the 'wickedest town in Gunnison County'. It had four cemeteries, one on each knoll outside the city. There is a story that a newcomer woke up one morning with eight bullet holes in his tent. Another story that justice could be bought by setting up the most drinks at Frenchy's bar. The town bragged it went through eight marshals in its early days, with only one finishing out his term. Below is the story as relayed by Sandra Dallas in her book, "Colorado Ghost Towns and Mining Camps":
The first, known as old man Willis, was told: "See nothing. Hear nothing. Do nothing, and the first arrest you make will be your last." Willis followed orders only to discover that his employers also intended to do nothing. When he went unpaid, he quit. His successor, Tom LaHay, was a bully, a former border ruffian who arrested men to show off his fearlessness, then let them go once they reached jail. Town fathers, afraid LaHay would be lynched by irate townsmen, let him go to. LaHay himself disposed of the third lawman by gunning him down in a shootout.
The fourth Sheriff arrested so many men the court had to work overtime to hold their trials. He was shot by a gambler he supposedly had disarmed, and was replaced by Jack Ward, a tough, who quit to become a preacher. The fifth marshal, Sam Micky, was committed to an insane asylum where he spent his time pacing the floor, believing he was back on the Tin Cup beat. The seventh marshal was shot, and the eighth managed to last out his term.
I hope you enjoyed some of the gems I found while researching this remote area of Colorado. There are so many other stories of Tin Cup and surrounding area, but I'll leave those for possible future posts.
For further information and research you may want to check out the following:
Robert L. Brown's - "Ghost Towns of the Colorado Rockies", "Colorado's Ghost Towns: Past and Present", "Jeep Trails to Colorado Ghost Towns"
1884 Business Gazette for Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Arizona
Gunnison, Colorado's Bonanza Co
Doris Gardner-McCraw -
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Colorado and Women's History
Angela Raines - author: Where Love & History Meet