100 Years Ago in the San Luis Valley

June 1924
By Barbara Kruse

June 1924 was marked by an unusual amount of wind and warm weather, but the Monte Vista Journal noted that there was no lack of irrigation water and lots of snow at the high elevations. Rain will no doubt soon come as ranchmen have commenced to hay.

The San Luis Valley is the second largest producer of head lettuce in Colorado next to Minturn, Gypsum and Eagle Valley. The Masonic Picnic at Masonic Park was attended by 1,500 people who came in 500 cars. Each year the Manchurian government comes to the U.S. to purchase registered sheep. A number of Rambouillet sheep from the King Brothers, of the SLV, were bought and considered the most desirable type of livestock.

The continued drilling for oil in Hooper by Valley Oil claims to have the deepest well ever drilled in Colorado. Sticky shale and fossils were coming up in the well which had reached a depth of 4,270 feet. They were awaiting a gusher.

Mayor Emperius welcomed 1,000 people in attendance at the first Alamosa revival meeting. The month-long revival was held in a tabernacle, built in one day by volunteers, and designed to hold 1,500 people and a 100-voice choir. (Art Ewald of Antonito had on a display a brook trout weighing 5 ¼ pounds (no mention of where it was caught).

Several automobile accidents were reported; one involving moonshine and Alamosa boys riding the bank, another involved two Fords having an enthusiastic meeting. Family quarrels are said to of caused an Alamosa man to shoot and seriously wound his wife. The man sat down at the jail steps and waited for an officer. His wife of 1 ½ years said he had not supported her for 6 months. Harry Cochran was crossing a bridge above the South Fork Junction when a rod came loose under his car, caught on the floor of the bridge, and threw the car over the bridge into the river. Cochran and his passenger survived and went to work
the next day.

A Minnesota man came to Colorado for tuberculosis treatment but was not accepted at Craig Hospital because he was not a Colorado resident. His wife found a job cooking at a mining camp around Wagon Wheel Gap. He was caught in Monte Vista with a 25-gallon keg of a highly intoxicating beverage. The judge did not know how to handle the prisoner who was little more than an invalid with obvious, advanced tuberculosis and had no money. He was dismissed but had to surrender his vehicle. A two-county sweep resulted in the confiscation of six stills, 200 gallons of liquor and thousands of gallons of mash. Twelve men were jailed from Alamosa and Costilla counties.

Perennial peppergrass or white top weed was making an appearance in the SLV. In some parts of the valley it has taken over whole tracks of land. Combating this weed is not an easy matter. Any method to keep the foliage from appearing above the surface, thus starving the roots is the plants undoing.

A man simply lighting his breakfast fire caught a can of kerosine on fire which exploded and ignited his house which burned to the ground. Firemen arrived at the Getz South Farm to find ten women bravely organized into a bucket brigade. They opened the main gate on the irrigation ditch and the fire, which was in the barn, was out in fifteen minutes.

The 60 x 120-foot tent of the Taylor Players was reduced to rubble when it was destroyed by fire. However, the same newspaper page announced the Larkin Players in town, at a tent theater, to appear for one week, on the railroad grounds and said to be of unusual merit.

A Boston wool dealer declared the SLV as the finest place in the country to establish woolen mills. Local sheep produce one thousand pounds of wool annually which could make one million yards of cloth.

The 1915 film Birth of a Nation was showing at the Armory in Monte Vista.

“A feller has no time for hate, Out Fishin’
He isn’t eager to be great, Out Fishin’
He isn’t thinking thoughts of self,
But he is away, just himself, Out Fishin’”.