OCCHS replaces stolen ‘old fort’ plaque

       About 20 people, most of them volunteers with the Old Colorado City Historical Society (OCCHS), attended a brief ceremony Oct. 28 marking the installation of a replacement plaque commemorating what used to be known as the “old fort” at 2818 W. Pikes Peak Ave.

Attendees at the "old fort" plaque-replacement ceremony Oct. 28 include Old Colorado City Historical Society President Sharon Swint (looking around side of stone); Dave Hughes, one of the fort researchers (second from right); 2818 W. Colorado property owner Janie Knickerbocker (far left) and resident Shirley Valdez (third from left).
Westside Pioneer photo

David Swint, a retired Air Force Brigadier General and Old Colorado City Historical Society volunteer, attaches the new plaque in front of 2818 W. Pikes Peak Ave. during the ceremony Oct. 28. He's using nails that expand after being hammered in, so as to make theft harder.
Westside Pioneer photo

       The original bronze piece, screwed into a stone slab at that site in 1936, vanished last January, with police suspecting metal thieves of cutting it up to sell for scrap.
       “It was heart-sickening to see people walk by and have it [the stone] be empty,” said Shirley Valdez, who lives in the house that's now at 2818 W. Pikes Peak. She and her husband Ed were the ones who called police.
       The OCCHS, which led a private fundraising campaign for the replacement plaque, spent about $300 for a powdered-steel version (considered to be less appealing to metal thieves than bronze).
       It's also attached more securely. The original was put in with screws. The new one is secured with difficult-to-remove expanding nails (using a hammer painted gold for the occasion).
       The plaque states: “This marks the site of the old fort and stockade built by pioneers of Colorado City used in defense against the Indians in 1861 and 1868, constructed of logs set end on end.”
       In the ceremony, OCCHS President Sharon Swint spoke about how the volunteer group saw the replacement effort as a way to keep history alive.
       According to research by the OCCHS, the original log building was a hotel (an early owner was the Anway family) with a fort built around it. The place was also used for social gatherings. Despite the threats from the Plains Indians, “it seems to me, people were happier in Colorado City in the early days than now,” reads a 1906 newspaper quote the OCCHS found from early pioneer J.B. Sims. “At Christmas times we had shooting matches, a horse race or two, plenty of Tom and Jerry, and usually wound up the day with a dance at the Anway fort and supper at Smith and Baird's hotel.”

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