COBWEB CORNERS: An early Colorado City cabin
By Mel McFarland
It is hard for those of us younger than 75 to think of life without conveniences. As I discuss history of our past, a comment I often hear is, “Those were a different kind of people.” Well they were not; they did as we would do in the same spot. Reflecting on that, life on the prairie more than a hundred years ago was quite different. Since it is the season, how about imagining September 1860, here east of the mountains.
Look around inside our cabin and it is hard to see anything without a candle. The place was built into a hillside to get a bit more warmth in the winter. Some five feet of wall stick up with a chimney built at the rear. The roof was built up from branches and a few split logs. The inside walls are just rough wood. A trip up above town might find enough lime to help make plaster. There is quite a bit of it around Colorado City. The floor is packed dirt, too. The logs holding up the roof came from near Fountain Creek and it was harder than you might think. They were cut, trimmed and dragged here, but the only big forest is up at Black Forest or Manitou Park, thanks to a big fire in the 1840s.
As to our furniture, a couple of pieces were brought from Kansas. There is a chest of drawers and a chair near the iron bed. The kitchen area consists of a fireplace that is used for cooking and heating and a table that serves to ready the meals as well as to eat on. Some flat rocks on the floor support the legs of all the furniture except the chair. A few pegs in a rafter provide a place to hang clothes. If there were children, there might be another bed and more chairs, but a lone cowboy doesn't need much. Most would not have this much, but one needs to get a few things straight before sending east for the wife.
Some rich folks have lanterns, and maybe a few pictures on the wall. Windows might be nice too! The door is a couple of boards salvaged from a wagon body found along the way. There is room out back for some firewood, stocked before the snow sets in. A saddle is kept as well as rigging for a wagon, but there is no wagon. Horses are needed sometimes, but are not always necessary! The saddle and tack are kept in the house because of their value.
It may sound tough, but it sure is better than living in the open. In a few years changes would take place. And some of today's "old" houses would start to replace the old settler cabins.