Museum of Northwest Colorado: A farm boy with a mechanical bent
September 4, 2015
In 1916, the Stock-Raising Homestead Act raised a homesteader's allowable acreage from 320 acres to 640 acres in order to encourage settling of dry rangeland through ranching endeavors. Three years later, just after the end of the Great War, 7-year-old George Heintz arrived with his siblings and their parents who came to take advantage of that homestead option in the Great Divide area northwest of Craig. It wasn't too long before young George found that he enjoyed tinkering with repairs on the farm equipment more than the farming itself. His natural mechanical aptitude foreshadowed his future in the heating and plumbing business.
George married Evelyn Haltom in 1931, who was also a child of late-arriving homesteaders. The young couple first settled out on Great Divide but moved into town after three years. Eventually, George found himself working in the plumbing and heating business. In 1949, after about 10 years of gaining experience, he opened his own plumbing establishment located at 351 Ranney St. Growing up in Moffat County, George understood how critical heating issues can be in the winter when the temperatures easily can dip into the 30 below zero range and sometimes lower. He quickly built a reputation for being available day and night for plumbing and heating emergencies, even including his home phone number with the phone book's business listing in case someone needed his services after-hours.
While George continued to expand the business, Evelyn kept the accounting end of it running smoothly in between managing the family home and keeping up with their three daughters Georgia, Pearl and Faye. When cartoonist Chet Klock wrote his brief newspaper columns about Craig businessmen in 1956, he highlighted the George's Heintz Plumbing Business which by then had a solid reputation for good service.
George carried a full line of kitchen appliances in addition to heating and plumbing parts. He did his own tin work for the heating ducts, and serviced the entire Yampa Valley while working alone with no other help, even when installing equipment. After hours might find George and his wife on the square dance floor, or involved in various civic organizations including several fraternal clubs.
George continued to serve the area with his small company until his death in 1973, at the age of 60. His conscientious and enterprising attitude helped him build a successful business in a small town where reputation was important in order to maintain a good customer base. Sixty years later, Craig continues to be home to businesses that have been built on solid reputations for good service and good products.
The staff at the Museum of Northwest Colorado, located in downtown Craig, works diligently to document as much of our local history as possible. There are numerous exhibits in the museum featuring local people and local businesses that have been instrumental in the development of our area. Be sure to include a visit to the museum this summer, and enjoy the free admission and wonderful displays. For more information call 970-824-6360.
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Mary Pat Dunn is the registrar at the Museum of Northwest Colorado.