Diane Prather: Moffat County history comes to life

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This week's book is loaded with fascinating information about the early days in Moffat and surrounding counties - some dating back as far as the 1890s.

The book's title comes from a column that C.A. Stoddard wrote, beginning in 1956, for the Craig-Empire Courier. He was publisher and editor. "Tales of the Old West Retold" features stories about the early days in Northwestern Colorado.

Stoddard gathered the information from newspaper archives, correspondence and interviews with early pioneers.

So, "Tales of the Old West Retold: Early Stories of Northwestern Colorado" is a collection of the Stoddard stories, compiled and edited into a book by Dan Davidson, Janet Gerber and Shannan Koucherik.

The book's stories have been put into chapters according to the dates they originally were published.

A sampling of the book's contents is Chapter Two, "Frontier Editor - An Appreciation" (originally published in June 1957 to March 27, 1957). From its information, the reader learns about Craig's first newspaper.

The author wrote that Clarence H. Bronaugh, once a master printer for The Pantagraph (a daily newspaper in Illinois), decided to settle in Craig. He brought with him a Washington hand press, type and other equipment in order to start his own newspaper. Bronaugh set up an office on Craig's main street (now Yampa Avenue).

Bronaugh named his newspaper The Pantagraph, too. It was four pages, including two pages of state and national affairs and news from far off places (these pages from "ready print" out of Denver) and two pages of local news, editorial comments and legals.

The advertisements in the newspaper tell the reader a lot about early Craig.

For example, among the businesses buying ads were: B.C. Hull's "The Craig Hotel" (the only hotel in Craig): W.H. Tucker's "The Craig Land and Mercantile" (carrying such items as groceries, school supplies, drugs, stationery,) the Craig branch of "J.W. Hugus & Co." (with hardware, furniture, dry goods, hats and caps and a lot more:) and "The Windsor Restaurant" (with meals that cost 35 cents.)

Chapter Two's 77 pages include many stories from The Pantagraph, written in Bronaugh's style that included verse and a personal touch.

Some of the stories include one about a sidewalk built from Tucker's store to "Central Hotel" (March 1892), the murder of Samuel Bernstein (July 15, 1892), building of "The First Christian Church" (July 14, 1893), the first flour mill (January 13, 1893), completion of a steel bridge across the Yampa River (January 1892), Craig's first murder and a whole lot more.

There is so much information in this book that this review cannot do it justice. Take, for example, the "Meeker Bank Robbery of 1897" that left all three robbers dead.

"The Rattlesnake Escapade" at Fortification Rocks, and the building of "Craig's Opera House."

The book's stories are accompanied by many interesting photographs.

Davidson, Gerber and Koucherik have done a superb job in compiling this book. It would make a terrific gift for people of all ages.

"Tales of the Old West Retold" was published by Lifetime Chronicle Press (2007) and can be purchased at the Museum of Northwest Colorado for $18.95.

Copyright Diane Prather, 2007. All rights reserved.

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