The George Hazard Memorial in Saguache
Saguache is a famous place in the old West. This is a place where many of the pioneers who made Colorado what it is today first settled and began their many varied ventures. In 1866, the bottomlands along Saguache Creek were first homesteaded by representatives of Fred Walsen (later of Walsenburg) and Christian Stollsteimer (later of Durango). Otto Mears came to Saguache in 1866 to raise wheat for his' and Lafayette Head's gristmill in Guadaloupe, and to open another mercantile. Otto was a Russian Jew who earned his entry into America by serving in the Union Army for 3 years, mostly in the Navajo campaigns with Kit Carson. Mears also served as contractor and sometimes as commissioner to the Utes who were served by the Los Pinos Agency, at first about 50 miles northwest of Saguache, then moved to the Montrose area.
In 1867, Mears built a toll road across Poncha Pass and established himself as a road builder. Then in 1871 he completed another toll road across Cochetopa Pass to the Los Pinos Agency (where he also had a store) and on to Lake City, a town founded by Mears as a supply center for the San Juan Mining District.
These were the days of John Lawrence, Fred Walsen, Nathan Russell, E. R. Harris, and John Greilig. These were ambitious men with uncommon vision. In those early days, Saguache was a farming/ranching town. There wasn't much mineral wealth to be had in the Cochetopa Hills near town nor in the northern arm of the Sangre de Cristo's but there was lot of lumber in some areas close by and the agricultural potential was just beginning to be tapped. Over time, there were some small gold and/or silver strikes in the mountains ringing the northern end of Saguache County and, for a time, they brought a slightly higher level of prosperity to town, but the real wealth of the area is based in agriculture: wheat, barley, hops, etc.
Saguache is also famous as the place where Alferd Packer, the Colorado Cannibal, escaped from the County Jail after being brought here while the authorities checked out his story in regards to his famous meal.
The storefront pictured to the right says a lot about the times and how they have faded for this once prosperous little town in a still-beautiful setting. No one would paint that company name/identification on their windows in modern America for fear of massive public outcry and government interference in their business. I miss the simplicity of the old days, and the innocence we all shared then, too.
The County Courthouse Annex
Also in downtown Saguache
The Saguache County Public Library
This log cabin was just off of downtown
The Saguache Skate Park
The Saguache Town Hall
The Saguache County Museum
Also at the County Museum
The Saguache County Museum
Saguache County Related PagesBonanza - Center - Crestone - Moffat
Saguache - Villa Grove - Saguache County
Rio Grande National Forest - Penitente Canyon