In 2018, the old Felch Ranch was put up for sale. JoAnn, being a realtor, had a client interested in seeing it. I tagged along because I had been wanting to help visualize where the old ranch sat in relation to the creek and where the historic spring sat on the property. The location of the ranch house was probably based on its proximity to this spring. The spring was still there but now it was covered up with a little building. It was within walking distance to the house so no doubt the young ones made many a trek back and forth to this spring to bring up clean drinking water.
Look closely at the drawing above (or below) and there is one other fascinating aspect to it. A wagon cover is sitting in the front yard on a couple of saw horses. It probably sat there most of the time, always ready to use. I’m imagining rainy weather was coming in but it was Saturday and the family planning to ride into town. Perhaps Marshall and his stepson Albert wrestled on the wagon cover and then coaxed the two always difficult oxen (maybe named Abe and Lincoln) into the harness so they would have plenty of power to carry the family into town and bring back a few supplies.
Below right is a picture of the ranch today as pictured from the county road. It was so exciting the first time I saw the big round rocks next to the fence and realized that the new ranch house sits pretty close to where the Felch family lived, the spring would have been just off to the right. I don’t think those rocks have ever been moved.
This house was the place Amanda managed, Marshall’s base camp,and the Garden Park ranch is where the children worked and played. The story of the historic drawing is told in this blog.
In 2010,local ranchers Bob Shoemaker, Curt and Peggy Sorenson, GeoCorps intern Allison Vitkus (working for the local Bureau of Land Management), and myself were trying to figure out exactly where the Felch children went to school. That is our group on the lower left. We had in hand the historic picture of the first one room school house taken in 1891. This would have been about fifteen years after the Felch kids attended. It was one of those frustrating moments where we knew we were within a few feet but never totally agreed on the exact spot.
For the Felch children going to or from school it was probably about an hour brisk walk . They were young and spry and they probably had a lot of fun walking down the dirt road past ranches and next to the creek, especially in the afternoon when the weather was nice.
Above is one of my favorite places to get a view of Garden Park looking north toward the modern day “Felch” ranch. The photo location is on the first switchback heading east up the Oil Well Flats (mountain biking) road. In this fall picture, you can see what was once the Felch ranch. There is a faint remnant of the old historic road that traversed between the houses on the left and the modern ranch house on the right. It must have felt good when the family emerged out of the badlands area and the valley opened up with their ranch the gateway to the beautiful vally beyond.
One last stop before we begin our chapter is historic downtown Canon City. JoAnn and I walk do afternoon walks fairly regularly and the older part of downtown Canon City is a common destination. We walk west along Main and Macon streets, typically making it down to 300 block where the historic clock tower sits today. If we walk across the street, we can hold up a picture looking northwest at today is the DiRito’s Italian Restaurant. The Felch family would ride in their wagon into town to this point. If you hold up the above picture you can make out the exact ridgeline in the background and then think about the family shopping and having fun in what was once Canon City. If I’m doing a presentation I like to point out the one fellow with his hand on his hip and say “I never liked that guy“!
Kids, Corn, and Cows (and Old Bones too)
Between 1868 and 1873, Marshall and Amanda owned and managed a boarding house in Montezuma where they lived when the snow had cleared up but they would not have spent the winter there. In those times railroads into Summit County and the Montezuma area didn’t exist and survival in the winter was not something you could take for granted. The only way in or out of Montezuma at the time was over Georgia Pass if you were heading south or Argentine Pass if you were trying to make it to Denver. When the weather was good either was a severe challenge and unattainable when the snow gets deep. Only a handful of the hardiest, or maybe fool hardy, remained and certainly not enough to attempt to keep a boarding house running. Miners, saloon and business owners came down to a lower elevation during the winter arriving at places like Denver, Golden City, Old Colorado City, or Canon City. Marshall and Amanda spent winters generally at the ranch and summers up in Montezuma before establishing permanent residence at the ranch beginning in 1873.
Amanda’s Little Brother
Henry Colburn, the little brother Amanda followed into the Civil War, was sent home in May of 1864 after he suffered a severe injury during the horrific Battle of the Wilderness. By 1865 he recuperated enough to marry Addie Mason on August 29. As we know they were in the area around this time it seems logical that Marshall and Amanda attended. After they married, Henry and Addie lived in the Northeast Kingdom and they had two children although its unclear whether it was a fruitful relationship. About the time Marshall was in Colorado traveling on his wagon and Amanda was working in St. Joseph Missouri, their first child Charles was born on July 31, 1866. Henry and Addie’s second child Gertrude Addie was born in 1867, the same year as Marshall and Amanda’s little newborn daughter Sarah.
In the spring of 1872 Marshall and Amanda were getting ready to head up to Montezuma when they must have received a letter that no one ever wants to receive. Amanda’a brother Henry had passed away, something that must have been a great loss to Amanda who loved him almost more like a son than a brother. The cause of his death is not known. It’s logical to wonder if there were lingering effects from physical or even mental injuries he suffered during the war.
By 1873 Marshall and Amanda had five children. Albert, the eldest boy from Amanda’s first marriage came west in 1867 and he was now sixteen. As a young man, he could have been particularly helpful up at the boarding house or down on the ranch.
Sarah was six-years-old, the same age Amanda was when her mother Celana passed away. Every indication of Sarah’s personality later in life points to her being helpful to her parents and in the lead as far as her younger brothers were concerned. She was probably assisting with the younger ones, particularly Willie who was a toddler, just learning to walk, and the youngest member of the family. Edward or Ned was now four and Emerson Webster was three.
Henry, Marshall’s younger brother, and his wife Kate moved to Colorado around 1867 bringing Albert with them. Henry and Kate would have been tremendously helpful in maintaining the ranch and helping organize supplies that Marshall could freight up to the boarding house in Montezuma. Henry and Kate’s daughter Claribel was born here in Canon City in October of 1871. Like all pioneers they would be looking to establish their own spread but their story went unfulfilled. It was reported in the paper on April 17, 1873 that Kate accidentally took an overdose of medicine and died. Claribel was only a year and a half old at the time. It’s natural to make the leap and assume that maybe it wasn’t an accident but a suicide, something we’ll never know. Kate was buried in the Greenwood Pioneer Cemetery not far from where the Felch family plot later developed. Henry now had the young toddler Claribel, whom he had to to take care of and he was without a wife. Claribel may have joined in with Sarah, Ned, Emerson, and Willy and become a part of Marshall and Amanda’s family. Perhaps Sarah babysat both Willy and Claribel?
Marshall’s older sister Sarah married Nedom Weld in Vermont back in 1854 and together they possibly had one girl and for sure they had two boys; Walter in 1857 and Edward in 1860. About the time Edward was born, Ned passed away from unknown circumstances. It was after Sarah’s second marriage to Charles Allsaint in 1872 that was followed by divorce in 1876 , Sarah decided to pull up stakes and move west to live near Marshall and Amanda. Walter and Edward were teenagers by 1876 so they may have come in handy around the ranch and Albert was there to show them the ropes.
The last member to join the out west adventure was Marshall’s youngest brother Charles. Charles was only eleven when his older brother Marshall mustered into the Civil War and only eighteen when he married Mary Stetson back home in Vermont in 1868. A year later they had a girl Catherine followed by a son George Henry. There is no information indicating Charles and Catherine attempted to establish roots in the Canon City area, but they did come west at some point and were definitely here by 1877. Catherine would have been about the same age as Emerson, while George was about the same age as Willy and Claribel.
In the summer of 1876 there must have been many moments at the Felch Ranch when it was bustling with activity and small children. It’s fun to imagine what a family photograph at the ranch would look like with all the relatives standing or sitting with the little ones in front. They were poor and if such a photograph was taken it has never surfaced.
From what we have been able to uncover, there is no record that any of Amanda’s relatives from the Northeast Kingdom ever came to live in Colorado. The evidence indicates that the extended family was primarily from Marshall’s side.
Marshall and Amanda had both become intimately aware of death in the Civil War, living with it on a daily basis. The death of Amanda’s brother Henry was painful leaving two little ones with their mother to carry on. Two more little ones were left with a single parent when Henry Felch’s wife Kate may have taken her own life. It was not until 1876 that one of Amanda and Marshall’s own offspring passed away.
On May the third of 1876 Willie died at the age of four. Amanda reported much later that the doctors called the cause of death something called “spasms of the glottis”(“Pension Application: A.M.Felch” 1888). A review of this term indicates spasms triggering interruption of breathing, something most frequently occurring in infants, particularly when teething. Marshall and Amanda must have tried everything that both of their extended medical experience, and their doctor could provide, trying to save him.
The 160 acres of land they had purchased in 1866 was never officially surveyed, therefore based well entrenched federal land laws, their land title was flawed. Surveyed land commonly is based on straight lines, most land parcels are squares, or combination of squares.
If you recall from the chapter “This land is our land”, what Marshall and Amanda first bought was shaped more like thick pancake syrup dropped on a slanted table, not bad for the moment as it was all that was to be had in 1866. Their title was solid on a temporary basis but the land would have to be surveyed and officially acquired. In the end, it would be shaped like an upside-down letter L, a combination of four squares.
Federal surveyors from the general land office arrived in 1872 and began working in many areas around Canon City including Garden Park. Marshall and Amanda worked with them to help formulate their new land boundaries. The official conveyance of land signed by Ulysses S. Grant on May 15, 1876. This must have been a bittersweet moment in that it was only a couple of weeks after Willy’s death.
The land Marshall first bought included a cabin while a later photograph and a later drawing shows a second cabin. This would have been the sleeping quarters for both boarders and all the other family members. This would be what they would live in for the rest of their lives other than adding a barn, root cellar, and a few outbuildings, .
Marshall and Amanda generally referred to their homestead as a ranch. This would imply raising cattle, horses, pigs, and chickens rather than a farm where the primary crops are things like corn, wheat, or potatoes. This is not that different than what is going on today where much of the land in the Canon City area is irrigated. Some of it is used for raising things like pumpkins or corn but often times it is used just to grow hay for livestock. On the other hand, Canon City area did obtain some notoriety in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s for growing fruit, particularly apples. Grapes and other commodities also dot the landscape, more so today than back then.
The term Garden Park implies growing vegetables so a part of the ranch certainly would have been used for the traditional types of family farm commodities. The Felch ranch had plenty of space for a vegetable garden for the family. They probably kept it close to the cabins to protect their food.
Like many farms or ranches in this more arid part of North America they utilized irrigation water. It would augment the sparse rainfall so they could grow hay and vegetables. The water was needed by the animals as well of course. There is no recorded irrigation use until 1894 when a court decree authorized use of the Cottage Rock ditch for the Felch family on part of the property.
Most all the ditches in Garden Park would have captured water from Four Mile Creek to water their fields. One of the special features that attracted Marshall to this property in the first place is there is a spring relatively close to where the cabins were located and certainly used for domestic purposes. That spring still exists today. All in all, it was what we might call the “little ranch in Garden Park”. It was a story with fun and joyous moments to hopefully offset the painful ones and the work it took to simply survive.
In those days, making a solid living off a 160-acre farm was achievable back east, where there was a lot of rain, but more acreage was needed in the arid west if one was to survive on a ranch or farm. The great John Wesley Powell understood this clearly about the arid west; 160 acres in Ohio might work for a family but something more along the lines of at least 640 acres was needed to make it on a ranch out west where more ranching and less farming was the norm.
The influx of settlers and a lack of understanding of an arid landscape led to severe environmental degradation over a short period of time. Plowing up native grasslands, building roads, intensively grazing, cutting down trees for construction and firewood, led to mud, dust, degraded water, and flooding.
A group of ranchers and farmers today in the Garden Park have brought back some the un-irrigated areas to a more natural and healthier setting.
Amanda Felch borrowed $200 from a Joseph Phelps on 9-24-1872 for an unknown reason. She put up the following cows for collateral noting that they were branded. It gives some insight into what was running (or standing) about at the ranch. (“Pension Application: A.M.Felch” 1888)
- One brown cow about eight years old
- One red sided cow with white line on the back
- One white cow with red head and neck with calf
- One buckskin cow from Texas
- One black cow three years old
- One spotted heifer two years old in September
- One red-sided white two-year-old heifer with calf
- One red yearling
Amanda knew they were getting ready to sell everything up in Montezuma so Amanda was comfortable that she would be able to pay this back.
The brand Marshall and Amanda used was a “VI” on their left hip. A “VI” would most certainly indicate the 6th corps that they served under during the war and a cause worth fighting for.
A slightly different cow story took place on May 31, 1873. Marshall reported in the local brand book on page five that he had acquired a stray cow and if it could be identified and pay the charges he would return it. This never happened and a year later he sold it.
Shortly after the South succeeded from the Union, the territory of Colorado was carved out of four other territories in 1861. Something as minimal as territorial government was deemed necessary in response to the huge migration of miners flooding into the area back in 1859. Marshall and Amanda arrived and settled in under a territorial status, something far less organized than a state government but better than nothing.
Colorado, was designated a state on the first of August in 1876. It was almost exactly one hundred years to the day when the Declaration of Independence was signed and hence Colorado is often referred to as the Centennial State.
About ten years after Marshall and Amanda arrived in Colorado they received official title to their land.
There were some serious questions regarding whether or not Colorado should be admitted as a state. Here is the view of Colorado at the time from a New York magazine.
“There is not a single good reason for the admission of Colorado. Indeed, if it were not for the mines in that mountainous and forbidding region there would be no population at all. The population, such as it is, is made up of a roving and unsettled horde of adventurers, who have no settled homes there or elsewhere, and are there solely because the state of semi-barbarism prevalent in that wild country suits their vagrant habits. There is something repulsive in the idea that a few handfuls of miners and reckless bushwackers should have the same representation in the Senate as Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York. “(Lydia Hooper 2018)
Marshall and Amanda certainly witnessed every sort of villainy, corruption, and frontier justice imaginable. Locally, nasty criminals like Joe Dodge and the Espinoza Brothers murdered innocent people. Cattle rustlers and horse thieves were not just idle terms, they meant something. Maybe worst of all were the smooth talking, nicely dressed men because they were deceptive about their intentions.
Marshall and Amanda navigated this pond full of crocodiles but even though those waters were still fairly well infested probably reluctantly agreed that Colorado was civilized enough by 1876 to become a state.
From a native American perspective, the land was highly civilized before we arrived and left with a vengeance when we did.
Paying the Bills
Amanda’s seems to have been managing the house, the ranch, the family, and boarders. Based on abilities she developed in the war, she was probably pretty good at keeping all the young ones busy on various tasks. She would probably keep the whole thing operational with some additional money coming in from boarders.
Marshall’s contribution beyond freighting appears to be ranch work and maybe some work with the local oil wells. The days of Marshall running freight into the high mountains diminished by 1873 but there was plenty of local wagon driving work to be done. Freighting on any level required packing and unloading a working wagon and working with the animals to pull it. None of it was easy but it generally required less intensive manual labor than some of the alternatives in the area such as digging coal, drilling rock in quarries, making bricks, mining clay, or digging ditches.
Marshall came out of the Civil War with some excellent understanding of medications at the time. Unfortunately he was not formally educated at a higher level limiting the opportunity to become a doctor or a pharmacist. He did have a close relationship to local doctors so maybe he was able to provide paid assistance there from time to time.
Amanda Felch testified in Marshall’s 1888 pension application that between 1870 and 1880 Marshall was about two-thirds disabled. After that she described him as totally disabled. The attacks of almost unbearable pain, numbness in his left side and arm, skin infections including boils that required lancing, badly swollen hands and arms above the elbow, angina, and recurring diarrhea, all limited what he could do without even mentioning his obvious PTSD.
After the Civil War, there was not a lot of sympathy for under-performing veterans. Men were expected to step up and be a man, regardless of what had happened to them. These unreasonable expectations most certainly added to Marshall’s stress and probably created insecurities about his manhood. Following the Viet Nam War, we collectively became more sympathetic to these types of problems.
Canon City began as a community in the late 1850’s. By 1866 the population was around 100. In 1870, at the time of the first official census, the city’s population was 229.
The location of Canon City had the ingredients an emerging town wanted. Most of all it had access up into South Park and several of the major mining districts. It was now competing with other stepping off points like Denver or Old Colorado City. The Arkansas River, along with some of its local tributaries, provided access to water. The hogbacks flanking the west end of town served two purposes. They provided building stone and clay for bricks. After it was mined away there was a 100 foot high solid wall flanking the prison on the west. Coal beds along the southern side of Canon City stretched down to the Florence area and beyond. Coal was an essential ingredient to early development of a city. The surrounding landscape, including the great canyon from which the Arkansas River emerged, was attractive enough that the potential for tourism abounded. Pretty much all the ingredients for growth were in place.
Canon City, like a few other Colorado territory gateway communities was almost overrun by freighters in the early days. Like many towns in the west, the main street was wide enough to accommodate wagon trains and it was in downtown Canon City that the freighters would gather. Freight wagons were going everywhere along the Front Range and into and out of the mountains carrying goods.
Freight wagons were heading up along Current Creek into South Park. From there most went through Fairplay, then up and over the mountain passes to the mining camps on the north. Silver discoveries in Leadville over the Mosquito Range to the west triggered one of the largest mining booms ever. Closer to Canon City, silver was discovered and mines were being developed in the Wet Mountain Valley. Freighters and stage coaches were running down into Silver Cliff and Rosita.
Freighting was still needed in the many local and remote areas. Even when trains arrived, the trains did not reach many locations.
Freighters on Third Street. Image courtesy of the Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center
Inmates, Fruit, Freighting, and Fun
- The Territorial Prison was established in 1868 and by 1870 the first prison building had been constructed.
- Apple trees were planted and a variety of crops were grown.
- Cattle and other livestock were raised.
- The railroad made it directly in Canon City by 1874 and flowery descriptions were produced to attract tourism to interesting locations such as the Grand Canyon of the Arkansas (the Royal Gorge today).
Canon City’s population increased from 229 in 1870 to 1,501 in 1880. This dramatic level of growth is not that unusual in those time frames as the mass migration from the east continued. Livery stables, lumber yards, hardware, soft goods, grocery stores, banks, churches, doctors’ offices, saloons, hotels, and all the rest were being built.
Development was particularly prolific on the 200 to 400 blocks of Main Street and in 1874 a total of thirty-two new buildings were erected. The first regular schoolhouse, a two-story stone building, was opened at 7th and Macon streets in 1880.
For a single place that beautifully captures the essence of early Canon City, it’s pretty difficult not to identify Murray’s Saloon. It is still intact today at 305 Main street but is no longer a saloon. The main floor was constructed in the late 1860’s with a second story addition in the early 1870’s. It was a particularly popular drinking establishment but when a second story was added, additional uses included a town hall for official business, courtroom, public hall for concerts, lectures, theater, and social festivities.
The drawing on the right was by Cara Fisher, a Fremont County historian who together with Elinor McGinn produced the book “If Walls Could Speak” in 1984.(McGinn, Elinor M. and Fisher, Cara D. 1984)
The charter to incorporate Canon City was drawn up in Murray’s Hall on April 2, 1872.
The One Room School House
Settlers wanted to have their children educated and understood the importance of a school. All they needed was a spare room, some books, and someone with an education willing to teach. One room school houses were constructed all across the country. The logical place to build a school in Garden Park was about two miles north of the Felch Ranch.
A one room school house was designed as a gathering place for students as young as six and up to about sixteen. There were no standardized teaching materials and there was a lot of flexibility to accommodate pretty much whatever walked in the door.
Certainly some informal education efforts were underway by 1876 in the valley of Garden Park. A rough but functional building appears to have been constructed by 1876 but there is no record of a school or a teacher before then. Oramel Lucas appears to be the first official teacher for the 1876/77 year.
In 1876, Sarah was nine, Ned was eight and Emerson was six and a half. The importance of an education was important to both Marshall and Amanda. Perhaps the three children piled in the wagon and were given a wagon ride in the morning to school by Marshall or Amanda. Probably they walked back home along the creek getting into little adventures when dismissed at the end of the school day.
The land was surveyed by federal surveyors. Surveyed land was needed for a legitimate land title. The surveyors created townships that were six miles square. They were then divided each township up into 36 sections, each one mile square. One square mile would support four 160 acre parcels or four families.
In Colorado, two sections were set aside in every township and those lands became property of the state of Colorado to encourage education. This became more important in 1876 when Colorado became a state. There was a bigger push for school districts to form and school teachers to be hired. School sections helped support public education all across the state.
The picture of the Garden Park School was taken in 1891, a few years after any of the Felch children would have attended. It is typical of the one room school houses in the area. The photograph above is courtesy of the Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center.
Fossils and Old Bones
Marshall Felch had an interest in fossils. On January 2, 1888, Marshall wrote to Professor Marsh of the Yale Peabody Museum recalling finding fossils during the Civil War. His first recollection was when the Vermont 3rd was near Danville Virginia about the time General Lee signed terms for surrender at Appomattox. The second recollection was a fossil rich rock formation south of the Rapidan River between Culpepper and Orange Virginia where Marshall and Amanda were during the winter encampment of 1863/64. One other place he got a fairly quick look at was in the fall of 1864 was a fossil rich ridge along the Eastern base of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. (Felch, Marshall P. 1888).
In the winter of 1876-77 Marshall’s younger brother Charles was was with Marshall at his ranch. Years later Charles described a discovery that they reported to the local newspaper in January of 1877. Thirty seven years later, Charles reported to the local paper “what we at first supposed to be a section of a petrified tree trunk about one foot in diameter, but on examining it found to our astonishment that it was a leg bone of some gigantic animal“. (Charles Felch 1914).
Oramel Lucas came west from northern Ohio in 1876 hoping to both make money teaching and work on geologic studies. He took the geologic work seriously picking up publications by Hayden and Dana(Lucas, Oramel 1877b). Professor James Dwight Dana’s manual of geology was widely in use as a standard geologic text book. Ferdinand Hayden’s US Geologic and Geographical reports pertaining to just completed magnificent Colorado survey had just been completed and some of the annual reports were available. Oramel was planning to spend a year or so out west and then return back to Oberlin College and finish his degree. He needed to make money to complete his degree which the one room school house teacher job barely provided. The geologic work he was doing would provide field studies that could be applied toward his degree and his teaching job in a brand new one room school house in Garden Park would bring him into daily contact with the Felch youngsters.
Oramel was in his 80’s and living alone in a home on Spruce Street in the hilly part of Berkeley, California in the early 1930’s. His wife Hattie whom he had lived in various place across the west coast including Pendleton Oregon, Oregon City Oregon, Pacific Grove California, and Berkeley California, died not long ago and his health was starting to fail. At this moment Oramel was sitting with his daughter Ethyl, their only surviving child. Oramel asked Ethyl to take notes and write down his story of the time before he became a minister, even before he went to the theology seminary at Oberlin College in Ohio of finding dinosaurs. These notes were recorded and and kept by Ethyl in a special box that included other materials about the dinosaur discoveries. Fifty years after Ethyl’s passing, the box was found by Catherine Webb of Albany California who in turn gave the box to Professor Joseph Gregory of the University of California at Berkeley. Dr. Gregory then turned the materials over to Dr. John McIntosh, the most knowledgeable professor at the time of the work of Oramel Lucas (Gregory, Joseph 1981).
Sarah Felch was nearing the end of her life when she sat down with the great dinosaur excavator Earl Douglass in Salt Lake City on two occasions, first on October 25, 1925 and secondly on July 21, 1926. Sarah shared the letters written to her father Marshall by Professor Marsh between 1882 and 1891 that she had been carrying with her for forty years. At the time Sarah was in her late 50’s, a member of the LDS faith, wife of Charles Zimmerman, and mother of eight. When she was young she was an avid rock and fossil collector, the best educated and most well traveled of any of the Felch children. At the meeting, she described what she remembered about those early excavations to Mr. Douglass and recalled that she was the first person to find bone at the site her father Marshall would work for many years starting in 1877.
Ague, Jay J., Kenneth Carpenter, and John H. Ostrom. 1995. “Solution to the Hallopus Enigma?” American Journal of Science 295 (1): 1–17.
Felch, Marshall P. Transcribed letter. 1888. “January 2, 1888, Felch to Marsh,” January 2, 1888.
Jaffe, Mark. 2000. The Gilded Dinosaur: The Fossil War Between E.D. Cope and O.C. Marsh and the Rise of American Science. First Edition edition. New York: Crown.
Lucas, Oramel. 1930. “Discovering Dinosaur Bones in Colorado.” Unpublished. Oramel Lucas files. Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center.
Lydia Hooper. 2018. “11 Things You Didn’t Know about Colorado’s Path to Statehood | History Colorado.” History Colorado. July 20, 2018.
McGinn, Elinor M., and Fisher, Cara D. 1984. If Walls Could Speak. First. Fremont – Custer Historical Society, Inc.
“Pension Application: A.M.Felch.” 1888.
At the beginning of 1877, the huge long-necked and long-tailed dinosaurs and big meat eating dinosaurs were unknown. The scientific understanding and public interest dramatically changed forever by the end of 1877. Discoveries of Jurassic dinosaurs near modern day Morrison Colorado, Como Bluffs Wyoming, and here in Canon City where our story is focused took place in that year. Huge bones discovered by the one room school house teacher Oramel Lucas attracted funding from the world renown paleontology professor Edward Cope. That action inadvertently attracted the interest of Copes intense competitor Professor Marsh of Yale. As news spread of Lucas’s discoveries, Marsh’s man Professor Mudge at Morrison was sent to Canon City to spy on Lucas’s work and attempt to sway him to switch allegiances. What he saw and the actions he took drew both Oramel Lucas and his neighbor Marshall Felch into the bone wars; a scientific battle to make discoveries of new species of animals. In August Marshall participated in the first excavations at what will become the historically and scientifically significant Marsh Felch Dinosaur Quarry. What happens here, in 1877, is remarkable.