Post by Doris McCraw
|Ross Martin and Robert Conrad.|
Lately I've been revisiting "The Wild Wild West" when I need break from all that is going on. The pure unadulterated fun of watching James West and Artemus Gordon maneuver their way through absurd situations is beyond joy for me. If you have watched the series, you know they have all kinds of 'inventions' and that the two not only use, but have to overcome. Here is a link on an episode from season one if you are so inclined: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geiVy5kw9m8. Ross Martin was wonderful as the ever inventive Gordon, and Robert Conrad, does anyone remember him with the battery on his shoulder saying "I dare you to knock this off", was West. This television series ran from Sept. 1965 to April 1969, with two follow up television movies in 1979 and 1980. Watching the antics, the show was designed to be a James Bond in the Old West, made me think about the other unbelievable characters and places in Colorado's history. The people and places are real, but the stories? You be the judge.
First up, Mountain Charley, aka Elisa Jane Forest Guerin. The story goes that Horace Greeley met up with the young lady in 1859 in the Gregory diggings while she was trying to light a cigar. It seems Charley had married at fourteen (or twelve as she later stated) and was a widowed mother at sixteen. She had cut her hair and put on men's clothes to hunt down the killer of her husband. One source says she dressed as a man, but never tried to hide the fact that she was a woman. She drank, prospected and swore with the best of them. She was armed with a revolver or two and a knife in her boot. Eventually she met up with her husbands killer in St. Louis and again on the trail to Golden, a town just outside Denver. That she failed to kill him, or he her both times is funny and sad. After the attempt in Colorado, her husbands killer confessed all and Mountain Charley married a bartender named Guerin. She later wrote her autobiography "Mountain Charley, or the Adventures of Mrs.E.J. Guerin, Who Was Thirteen Years in Male Attire".
|Robert Ford, undated.|
Next, Edward 'Red' Kelly, also known Edward Capehart O'Kelley, the man who killed Bob Ford in Creede, Colorado. Yes, that Bob Ford, the killer of Jesse James. One story has Kelly killing Ford over the story that Ford had accused him of stealing Ford's ring while in Pueblo, Colorado. Another version has Kelly being told by con man "Soapy Smith" that he would be famous for killing Ford. That Kelly had a temper seems to be well known. He was caught and tried for the murder of Ford and sentenced to life in the Colorado State (Territorial) Prison in Canon City, but he only served about eight years before he was paroled. Two years later he was killed in Oklahoma City after a fight with an officer in that town. More on Kelly can be found at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Capehart_O%27Kelley
The town of Boreas (the Greek god of the north wind) stands at the top of Boreas Pass, a train route from Como to Breckenridge, Colorado. This high mountain town came into existence due to the mineral in the area and the train that traveled through there. Dyersville, founded my the intinerant preacher Father Dyer, is just a few miles west down the pass. During the long cold winter of 1899 when trains couldn't make it through about six young men skied from Breckenridge over Boreas and onward to Denver. One summer the P.T. Barnum circus train came through the pass. When the train failed to climb the grade the animal trainer had the elephants push the train to the top of the pass.
|Boreas Pass section house, DSP&P RR.|
Finally, no story of Colorado and the bizarre would not be complete without a word about Nikola Tesla. Tesla arrived in Colorado Springs in 1899. He told his backers he was going to send a wireless signal from Pikes Peak to Paris. During one experiment Tesla burned the dynamo at the El Paso Electric company and the city of Colorado Springs lost all power. For more on Tesla's time in Colorado Springs you can visit the following web site: http://www.pbs.org/tesla/ll/ll_colspr.html
As a history buff these stories whet my appetite for more. Each and everyone may end up as part of the stories I continue to tell, both fiction and non-fiction. Here is to your stories and the pieces of history that inspire them. You can read more on my love/hate relationship with research at the following link: https://writingwranglersandwarriors.wordpress.com/2015/01/26/cursed-resources/
Happy writing. (Now back to mine, SMILE!)
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Photo and Poem: http://fivesevenfivepage.blogspot.com