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By the bootstraps

Craig pioneer Archie McLachlan a self-made man

Bridget Manley

This day in history

• In 1935, Moffat County officials authorized changes in its pension system, allowing 55 of the county's senior citizens to receive half of their old age pensions in cash, The Craig Empire-Courier reported Feb. 6.

• "The percentage : is the largest amount yet paid by the county," The Empire-Courier reported. "This will mean that the maximum cash pension to be paid during the coming months will be $12.50 and the minimum $7.50."







This day in history

• In 1935, Moffat County officials authorized changes in its pension system, allowing 55 of the county’s senior citizens to receive half of their old age pensions in cash, The Craig Empire-Courier reported Feb. 6.

• “The percentage : is the largest amount yet paid by the county,” The Empire-Courier reported. “This will mean that the maximum cash pension to be paid during the coming months will be $12.50 and the minimum $7.50.”

— Early life didn’t bode well for Archibald McLaughlin. When he arrived in Craig as a young man, he was fatherless and had little formal education.

Still, McLachlan didn’t let the circumstances dictate his future.

He worked his way west, plying the trades experience had taught him. He was a self-made man by the time he arrived in Craig.

McLachlan, son of Scottish-born parents, started life in Nova Scotia, Canada.

He had little chance to go to school. Instead, he learned most of his skills by hand.

He worked as a ranch hand from ages 8 to 16 before training to become a lumber millwright, A.W. Bower wrote in the book “Progressive Men of Western Colorado.”

A California gold strike brought McLachlan’s father to America in 1849 while the rest of the family waited in Canada for the father’s return.

The homecoming never came.

The elder McLachlan “made a good strike (in California) and while on his return home in 1852 was murdered for his money,” Bower reported.

Archibald, or Archie as he was commonly known, set out for America in 1868 with his mother in tow. He settled in the Eastern cities – first Boston, then Chicago, working as a carpenter.

McLachlan headed west in 1872, landing first in Golden where he established a sawmill near the town.

McLachlan wasn’t content to stay.

While his mother stayed behind in Golden, the Canadian-born sawmill owner turned his sights further west.

“In 1883, he moved to Bear (Yampa) River, a region at that time wholly unsettled, and here he located a homestead of 160 acres, one of the first six ranches taken up in that section,” according to the book.

McLachlan later added a 160-acre plot and a 240-acre swath to his holdings. He began growing hay, grain, vegetables and fruits and also raised cattle and horses on his newly acquired land.

The new rancher didn’t stop there.

He established a sawmill northeast of Craig and bought real estate in the settlement.

“This engages him in an extensive and profitable lumber business, which gives him prominence in commercial circles as well as in the stock industry,” Bower wrote.

McLachlan also became prominent in Craig’s social circles. His contemporaries knew him as a chapter Mason and “an ardent and active Democrat,” according to the book.

In 1895, he married Cora E. Ranney and had four children by her.

McLachlan, the orphan with little education, left a mark on his family and early Craig.

“When (McLachlan) came to Colorado, he was without capital and wholly unacquainted with the people,” Bower wrote. “He accepted with cheerfulness and alacrity the opportunities for useful labor and advancement which came to him, and by his own efforts he has risen to good financial and business standing, prominence in local affairs and a well established position in public esteem.”


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