Diane Prather: ‘Colorado Industries of the Past’ a look at economic past | CraigDailyPress.com
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Diane Prather: ‘Colorado Industries of the Past’ a look at economic past

Diane Prather

Flour, ice, matches, millinery and carnations are examples of 11 of Colorado’s earliest industries.

“Colorado Industries of the Past,” by William L. Reich, explores those Colorado businesses that have come and gone the past 150 years and the people who started them.

This is a well-researched book with a long list of industry experts, librarians and archivists.

Included is Dan Davidson, of Craig’s Museum of Northwest Colorado. An impressive bibliography for each chapter also is included in the book.

In the 1800s, people came to the Pikes Peak region looking for gold. Others came to the area because they saw opportunities to make a living by providing what others needed.

So, local businesses were born.

One of the early entrepreneurs of Colorado business was David Cheesman Oakes. According to the author, it was in the summer of 1858 that Oakes traveled to Colorado to scout out business opportunities in the Pikes Peak gold region. While there, D.C. Oakes met up with the Russell party from Georgia whose members were mostly searching for gold.

When Oakes returned to his Iowa home, he had with him a journal left by Luke Tierney, one of the members of the Russell party.

Oakes used the journal to write a detailed manual intended for would-be gold prospectors. Included in the manual was information about getting to the gold fields, how to pan gold and where to find the supplies they needed.

Oakes even included two lists of what would be needed to live for six months.

Included in the “Provisions, Supplies,” were 1,000 pounds of flour ($30), 25 pounds of gunpowder ($9), 50 pounds of lead ($5), and 2,000 gun caps ($1.20). Other provisions listed were four gallons of pickles, four gallons of vinegar and six gallons of brandy. That wasn’t all.

Also on the list were dry beans and fruit, dried beef, coffee, etc., right down to the cooking utensils. The total was $517.25.

The second list, “Teams, Implements,” includes oxen, yokes, a tent and gold prospecting implements.

The guidebook was very popular, until the would-be prospectors couldn’t find any gold.

Then, Oakes suddenly became very unpopular. He didn’t seem to let it bother him, however. Oakes had other business ideas, and in the end was known as one of Denver’s founding fathers.

The author cleverly ties D.C. Oakes into other chapters of the book by including a beginning sentence about him.

For example, in Chapter 1, flour mills are introduced by reminding the reader that flour was one of the provisions on Oakes’ list.

To start Chapter 4, the author notes that Oakes and other prospectors probably didn’t care about the presentation of dinner tables, but eventually flowers became important.

Because carnations enjoy bright sunlight in the daytime and cool air at night, long-stemmed carnations with large flowers flourished in Colorado. At one time, Colorado was the carnation capital of the United States.

Imagine how flower delivery was accomplished by horse-drawn delivery wagons in those early years. In winter, the wagons were heated by small charcoal stoves. Later, in 1920, delivery trucks were used.

Did you know that after World War II, Denver wholesalers had a standing order for 200 carnations each week?

Every Wednesday, the carnations were packed up and put on a nonstop flight to Washington, D.C. Mamie Eisenhower displayed the carnations in the White House.

This interesting book includes an account of a cigar maker’s day, the steps in making matches, and a lot more.

“Colorado Industries of the Past”, published by Johnson Books (2008), sells for $18.95. It can be found at the Museum of Northwest Colorado and Downtown Books in Craig.

Copyright Diane Prather, 2009.


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