Chuck Mack: The water in Muddy Creek, part 1

It isn't the only thing that's wet


On the Western banks of Dry Creek in Hayden sits a log house that seems like it has been a part of Hayden forever.

The fellow who keeps the roof patched, and the furnace stoked in that old log house is none other than an Irishman by the name of Kerry Cobb -- commonly called "Cobb" by friends and acquaintances. And when it comes to friends and acquaintances, Cobb has more than a few; I would go so far as to say that the whole town of Hayden and half of Craig are well acquainted with Irishman Cobb.

I have been a good friend of Cobb since the early 1950s, when he came to work at the old Colowyo Redwing Mine while I was working there. I had the privilege and pleasure of working with Cobb for practically all of my 20-year stint at the Seneca mine.

Now, when it comes to past history, Cobb is as sharp as a tack, and so was his brother, Carlin. Over the years I've got lots of help and information about the history of Routt, Moffat and Rio Blanco counties from the two Cobb brothers. I had worked with Carlin also at the Colowyo Redwing Mine for nearly all of my 23-year stint at that place. Carlin passed away a year or so ago and with his passing also passed a good deal of history of this area.

Irishmen Cobb of Hayden and I are now involved with an ongoing project. I'm trying to gather up all the information I possibly can on all the numerous coal mines in and around the Hayden area. And I cannot think of anyone who would be better acquainted with the coal mines of that area than old coal miner Cobb himself. And now it seems that Cobb is gathering up an army of investigators who he has enlisted to help with this very important project.

Alberta and I recently took a trip to Steamboat Springs and spent the afternoon in the library. We were hoping to find information on the Hayden area mines, but we didn't find one mention of what we were looking for. However, I will go so far as to say the day was the most fruitful day we ever spent in a library researching. While searching through the large case full of Routt County books we found just oodles and gobs of material on the Mt. Harris mine; enough material to make 45 photocopy sheets, and three great illustratative 7-by-16-inch photos of the Harris camp.

The pictures were taken from the hill on the Wadge camp and give a different view of any pictures I've previously seen of the Harris camp. And someone painstakingly identified all the major buildings in the camp. There was always one building in most of the pictures of the camp that I've seen that baffled me.

I'm not baffled anymore, because that building is identified as the boarding house for the Greeks. That's right, through that picture I've learned of another boarding house in Mt. Harris.

And one photo shows the rock house that sat north of U.S. Highway 40 up against the rim rocks. That is the house that had been built for George Harris, one of the mine's original owners.

I always knew that house existed, because both Charley and Ed Bugay told me about it. Their father had rented the big garage building after the rock house was gutted by fire. Mr. Bugay had purchased a new automobile and didn't want it sitting out in the weather.

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