COBWEB CORNERS: The bear with cattle horns
By Mel McFarland
With bear tales in the news, here is one from the Midland, back in 1903. A Midland train was coming from Cripple Creek in the early dawn. Suddenly, as the train shot out of the darkness of the only tunnel between Cripple Creek and Divide, there was a jolt. The big engine hardly noticed the obstruction, but a shower of deep red sprayed the huge boiler and splashed into the cab windows. Bits of brown hair flew through the air, and flesh was scattered over the snow beside the track.
Looking out the side window of the cab, the engineer saw the snow incarnadined and a dripping piece of something with tawny brown hair hurtling through the frosty air to a lichen-covered rock, where its jagged head hung quivering above the snow. The fireman on the other side of the cab saw a big, brown body wrenched into fragments that clung together with strands of bloody red as it rolled down the embankment.
Before they could look a second time, the long train was thundering away, down the mountain, leaving the dead behind.
"What was it, Ed?" the engineer asked his fireman, Ed Omer.
There is not much conversation in the cab of a locomotive on the mountain railroads of Colorado. There isn't time. When the train reached Divide, Omer had a chance to talk over the episode and it was agreed it had to have been a bear. Cows really have no business up in those lonely solitudes, and cows as a general rule do not go where they have no business (wherein cows differ from humans).
Ed Omer decided to go back for the hides of the bear if there was enough left to pick up. He found the hides all right, but he also found a pair of horns attached to one of them. When he returned, he again talked with his engineer, and they decided that the "bear" was either Jersey or Holstein. Still the mystery remains: How did the cows find their way up to that frozen mountain?