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COBWEB CORNERS: How the town of Hartsel came to be

By Mel McFarland

Feb. 5, 2018
       Ever travel out across South Park and wonder about the town Hartsel? Well, it was a railroad town, but it started before the Colorado Midland arrived in 1887.
       So who was Hartsel?
       Sam Hartsel moved to Colorado during the gold rush of 1859. He came west from a farm in Indiana with a wagon train. He eventually found himself at Fairplay. As a prospector he was not so lucky, and he worked as a cowboy on various ranches in South Park.
       In this occupation, he met the resident Ute Indians, who were being driven out of the area. He became fairly familiar to the Utes, who treated him well.
       On a ride across the park, he spotted Indians in the distance. Riding toward them, he found that they were Cheyennes, who were not friendly to the Utes. Normally located out on the plains east of Denver, the Cheyennes had wandered into the area.
       They were not exactly friendly to him, but had him guide them out of the park, back toward the plains. In doing this, he was with them when they came across a small Ute camp. The Cheyennes raided the camp, killing several braves and taking supplies from them. Hartsel worked them toward the Leadville Road, which connected Colorado City with the gold camp at Leadville. Once the Cheyennes were well on their way east, Hartsel was told he better leave them alone, and he returned to South Park.
       He settled near the hills which mark the present town of Hartsel, to raise cattle on his own. Hartsel and his wife had four children. A son died in his teens, but three daughters grew to be adults.
       During the Civil War, he was offered a commission with men who were heading off to the war, eventually fighting at Glorietta Pass in New Mexico, but he declined. He needed to keep an eye on his ranch.
       When the railroads started to build into South Park, it gave Hartsel a speedy way of shipping cattle to Denver and other points east. After the Colorado Midland arrived, he sold his ranch and moved to Denver. He spent his last years there.
       Now if I could only find out where the name Glentivar came from! It is gone now, with just a few stones from the foundation of the store sitting alongside US 24, at the bottom of Wilkerson Pass.

(Opinion: Cobweb Corners)

       Editor's note: Local historian Mel McFarland has been writing his Cobweb Corners column in the Westside Pioneer since 2004. To see past columns, go to the Pioneer's Archives. Either look for desired articles under the Cobweb Corners category for any year, or search by keywords in the Find box.

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