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In our last Postcard, we explored the vast timber belt running south along the Upper North Platte River Valley in south-central Carbon County to North Park Colorado. This week we continue our journey north from near Walden, Colo., back up the valley to what is now I-80 highway.

A promotional article in Feb. 7, 1889 issue of “The Platte Valley LYRE,” the first newspaper in the Saratoga/Encampment area, expounds:

On reaching the North Park line, the Platte timber belt turns to the west and runs along the mountains marking the southern valley limits. In this western course, the belt leaves considerable timber on three creeks, Big Creek, Bear Creek and Little Beaver and fine growth on Big Beaver and Indian creeks. The Indian Creek timber is especially adapted to fencing purposes.

And now is reached the head of the Grand Encampment River, where the timber area is astonishing in its reach and general size of growth. Grand forests clothe this entire mountain region, extending to the head of Elk River and passing onward toward Middle Park. In the vicinity of the Grand Encampment canyon is a growth of yellow pine from which was obtained the material used in the building of the United States military post of Fort Steele.

From the Grand Encampment, the timber belt takes a northerly course, striking first in its new line of travel the head of Cow Creek, where the timber field is wide and ample.

By way of the head of Cow Creek is the road from Saratoga Hot Springs to the summer resort and the trout fishing of Battle Lake, around which lake the pine and spruce growth is also dense.

To the north of Cow Creek is Calf Creek, amid whose forest was lately located the saw mill of B.T. Ryan, the mill now running on Cedar creek on the opposite side of the Platte Valley. Next are reached the two Spring creeks, the most northern of which streams displays a fine timber supply.

With the next stream to the north, Jack Creek, the limit of the timber belt is reached, it here running out in the scattering quaking aspen motifs of the Savary slopes. Jack Creek is a stream of long mountain course, and its timber wealth is vast.

Thus is traced the path of the great timber belt of the Upper Platte region. It is indeed a rich resource. In its unlimited and exhaustless production are included white pine, a timber of excellent lumber character; yellow pine equaling the eastern product; black fir or balsam, valuable for shingles and sheeting; and quaking asp, useful for fencing and firewood.

To all of this extensive and varied timber growth access is convenient and easy. There is not one of all the timber clothed streams mentioned in this article which has not its mountain road hewed into the forest heart and as none of these stream exceeds 20 miles in length, it will be readily seen that the hauling distance is short.

The lumber future of the Platte Valley is great.

Hoards of us strongly believe that rural volunteers could change the world for better if clueless bureaucrats would just allow it – sage advice from a discouraged volunteer and former newspaper publisher, editor, janitor and printer.

An editorial in the Sept. 7, 1916 hometown newspaper outlines what can be accomplished with volunteers who are free to “get the job done.” 

The article reads:

“We are assuming at this time responsibility that is no easy undertaking and that is the praise due to the officials of the Carbon County Fair Association for the Seventh Annual Fair. We have heard so much favor and have been so many times requested to make a special mention of the matter, that we are almost at sea to take the position of thanking them for the people. If we fail, we stand corrected and no back talk.

“The first thing on the program will be to doff your hats every time you meet Secretary Casteel for the next six months. If ever a man undertook an unpleasant, extremely hard and trying task, it was Casteel, when he whirled in to make a county fair this year – short notice, unpaid back premiums, no enthusiasm, no money and worst of all, no heart among the fair people. Under this condition Richmond was elected president and Casteel secretary, and they flew at it. Mr. Casteel worked night and day from that minute on until he left for his Cow Creek Ranch last spring. He never gave up but worked, planned, perspired and out of a conglomeration of mostly nothing brought out the most successful fair this country has ever witnessed.

“Unable to get the necessary help, he used some of his own ranch and office men. He not only did the planning but did more actual hard work than any two men should attempt. He was everywhere, filling a dozen places at once, and through it all he never overlooked a single detail, no matter how small. His judges were chosen with infinite care. He selected everything himself and saw that it was in its place.

“With it all, Mr. Casteel did one of the biggest feats of all in raising the funds to pay the back premiums, which has practically been accomplished. He neglected his entire private business, not only giving his own money but donating his time, which if paid in money could not compensate him for his services, as ingenuity of this kind knows no salary bounds. Not only the association owns him an unpaid debt of never-ending gratitude, but the people of the entire county feel that without this genius the Seventh Annual would have been a flat failure.

“We take this space in behalf of the entertained to thank Mr. Casteel and the officials and individuals who assisted him, fully aware of the feeble attempt to do the occasion justice.”

A news item following the editorial reads: 

“There were so many people here this week during the Fair that we threw up our hands trying to get the names of visitors from the surrounding country. People were here from Laramie, Rawlins, Encampment and other places, and it would take a paper twice this size to chronicle the entire list, but we are safe in the assertion that nearly every person in the valley was here, and we were glad to see them all.”

A century ago news in the hometown weekly newspaper featured the valley’s livestock industry, including these two articles in the Jan. 27, 1916 issue of “The Saratoga Sun.”

Killed calf

The following was this week received from H.D. Blydenburgh of the Jack Creek Land and Cattle Co. and contains some very unusual information:

We have just had an experience that we do not believe has ever happened to any other stockman in this valley.

A short time ago we received a letter from a former resident of the valley, asking if we were owners of cattle bearing a certain brand, that ranged on Jack Creek 26 years ago. We answered him that we were and that we still used that brand on our cattle and sheep.

You can imagine our surprise when we received the following letter from him by return mail.

“Many years ago I killed and ate a young calf on Jack Creek, branded with your brand. I did not need to do this as I had stock of my own I could have killed, so the act was that of a thief. I have tried my whole life to be square. I now wish to make restitution. Please find enclosed bank draft for $100, which I hope you will consider makes everything straight.”

It is so very rarely that anyone receives such a letter, that we think it worthy of notice. Most people, when they wish to ease their conscience, send the money anonymous, which keeps the receiver guessing as to who it is from and for what purpose it was sent. Not so with this man. He has acknowledged his sin and makes restitution, for the $100 was in the letter all right. We fully forgive him his fault and sincerely hope his conscience will cease from troubling him any longer.

While we did not know that this gentleman had killed and eaten our calf, we knew that this kind of work was going on in the valley at that time and may be going on yet for all we know.

Now if there are any others who have killed and eaten any of our cattle and sheep unknown to us, we would be very much pleased to have them relieve their conscience in the same substantial manner.

Duplicate brands

Very often the question is asked, “Why are there duplicate brands on the state records?” Nearly every mail brings in an inquiry of this kind. Before 1909 the recording of brands was done by the county clerks of the various counties.

The same brand could be recorded to different parties in every county in the state. There have been several cases where the same brand has been allowed to two parties who resided just across the county line from each other, and not more than 20 miles apart. This has caused a great deal of confusion.

When the state took over the brands in 1909, all of the brands on record in the counties and which were properly certified had to be accepted as state brands as the parties having them recorded had complied with the law then in effect. Since 1909 no duplicate brands have been allowed.

Hurry! Do it now! You stockmen who don’t want to loose your stock brand, re-record that brand today.

Dear loyal readers: In 1889, the area in south-central Carbon County around present day Saratoga and Encampment had been settled for only a few years, and the first newspaper in that area was just a year old. “The Platte Valley LYRE” was established in 1888 and promoted the vast resources of the “Upper North Platte River Valley” to the world.

Enjoy this Feb. 7, 1889 article from the LYRE, but remember the North Platte River originates south of Walden, Colo., flows north to Casper and then runs east through central Wyoming into Nebraska, thus the reference to the “Upper Platte” although the area is “down south.”

Plus, “LYRE” editor and publisher Geo. Caldwell had a reputation for exaggeration and tall tales when it came to promoting his home territory.

The headline and story reads:

Platte Timber – An Encircling Belt 130 Miles Long and 12 Miles Wide

Tributary to the great valley of the Upper Platte is a timber growth which in magnitude, excellence, variety and ease of access, is unsurpassed in the Great West.

This timber growth follows the course of the mountain chains encircling the valley of the Platte and forms a belt 130 miles long by 12 wide. In this belt is included pine, both white and yellow, black fir or balsam, spruce and quaking aspen.

This immense timber belt, like the mountain chains it continuously clothes, is semi-circular in form, in extending from the northern extremity of Medicine Bow range to the Savary Divide.

At its northern starting point, this timber belt clothes the mountain sources of Lake Creek with white pine, black fir or balsam and spruce and the foothills of the same stream with quaking aspen. Thence it runs to the waters of the two branches of Clear Creek. On this stream is located the sawmill of B.T. Ryan, now producing large quantities of excellent lumber.

From Cedar Creek, the belt reaches the splendid growth clothing the heads of the two Brush Creeks. Here, in Brush Creek Park, was located in the early days a Union Pacific tie camp, the output of which was of excellent character. Leaving Brush Creek, the growth passes on south to French Creek. On this stream is located a magnificent timber body – a timber body as yet scarcely touched by the ax. Next comes Mullen Creek, a creek also of vast timber supply.

Beyond Mullen Creek is found Douglas Creek, a stream 30 miles long, with almost every mile closely timber-clothed. On this creek there was also located at one time a Union Pacific tie camp.

Just south of Douglas Creek, are the waters of Willow Branch. This stream heads against a mountain ridge forming the Platte River divide and is distinguished as the starting point of the great yellow pine growth of the Upper Platte region. This yellow pine growth, broad and heavy, runs from Willow Branch to the line of North Park, and from thence far into Colorado. The lumber produced by this yellow pine forest rivals the best eastern article.”... but, then, we will saw those logs the next time we write.

LG Davis Thoroughbred Hereford “Wyoming” is Grand Champion

One hundred years ago, headlines in the hometown weekly newspaper bragged of the strong showing made by livestock from south-central Carbon County at the Denver Stock Show held annually in Denver, Colo. 

An article in the Jan. 27, 1916, issue of  “The Saratoga Sun” reports:

“Wyoming,” the 28-month thoroughbred Hereford bull, owned and raised by Capt. Davis of this city, was awarded the Grand Champion prize at the Denver Stock Show, winning over all comers from some of the finest herds from Iowa to the Pacific coast.

This bull was immediately purchased by one of the biggest breeders of the state of Iowa for $5,000. It was not the intention of Capt. Davis to dispose of the bull when he took him to Denver, but the offer was tempting, as well as the fact that Mr. Davis has many bulls on his big Hereford ranch up the river just south of Saratoga, including the sire and dam of “Wyoming.”

It is a fact, so stated by some 50 people from this valley who attended the stock show, that the Saratoga valley was the best represented of any portion of the West, and our entire exhibit would have done credit to any state.

Henry Flohr, up on Beaver creek, even had a car of hogs that made an excellent showing. Hunter, Casteel and Hunter took the biggest steer in the world from this valley, which attracted much attention. Canary and Sons took a car of bulls that were a credit. The car of heifers which Capt. Davis took, besides one or two other bulls, made a fine exhibition. Mr. Davis got from $300 to $600 for the heifers, while one other bull brought $1,450.

Those who attended the show cannot say enough in praise of it, which was much larger this year than ever before and bids fair to equal the once famous Chicago show. Ex-Gov. Brooks stated to the Cheyenne Tribune:

“I was indeed proud of 'Wyoming' when the beautiful 28-month-old Hereford bull ‘Wyoming,’ raised and owned by L.G. Davis of Saratoga, was awarded the grand championship over all competitors, including the stock of the famous McCook herd of Montana.”

An unusual article in the same issue noted, “Many years ago I killed and ate a young calf on Jack creek, branded with your brand…” but, then, that’s meat for the next time we gather around the campfire to roast the neighbor’s beef and tell stories.