Improved Fosdick Plat comes to OCCHS
Early Colorado City just became a lot clearer for local historians.
For years, they had been laboring with a poor copy of the town's first plat map, which had been drawn up by engineer H.M. Fosdick half a year after it was founded on Aug. 12, 1859.
But with help from the Internet, the Old Colorado City Historical Society (OCCHS) now owns one of the original printings of the Fosdick Plat. For an unknown number of years - and for reasons that are equally unknown - it had belonged to a private citizen in Grand Junction, its 28-by-38-inch sheet folded into a 4-by-6-inch “booklet.”
Contacted by the Dunlap family in Shelton, Wash., Dave Hughes, long-time OCCHS member (and creator of its website), negotiated a $150 price to obtain what he termed the “rare and extremely fragile” document. “It is as valuable an item as ANY historical Colorado City item possessed by our society to date - whether archive or artifact item,” he reported in an e-mail. “The Dunlaps, whose great-grandfather owned the rare plat map, found us online wondering whether we knew what that map was and were we interested in it. We were.”
According to Hughes, the Fosdick Plat still has value today, beyond its antique qualities. Although some parts of Colorado City were replatted in the years that followed its creation, the block/lot layout of about half of the 280-acre rectangle (2 miles long and 1 mile wide, roughly parallel to Fountain Creek) is “exactly the same as recorded by the county now.” Only one of the original street names remains: Colorado Avenue, its width the same as the original plat laid it out.
The main advantage of the new version? Other than creases at the folds, text that had been illegible on the plat copy can now be read. This includes plat numbers on the right-hand side that were faded on the copy, as well as a previously fuzzy promotional note at the top. The note's first part reads as follows: “Colorado City is located at the base of Pike's Peak, at the mouth of the 'Colorado Pass,' the only wagon road for 70 miles north or south, to the South Park, Blue River, Tarryall, and Arkansas gold mines. The famous Boiling Springs are 1 ½ miles distant. On the first of March 1860 there were 255 houses completed and many more contracted for.”
Hughes offered a historian's note on the latter statement. He's a little dubious about there being that many houses at that time; in any case, the “boom” had diminished within two years, and by the time William Palmer arrived in 1871 to start Colorado Springs, other routes to the mountains had been found and Colorado City had only 80 residents, Hughes said.
He believes that Fosdick had the plat printed in Denver. “on a pretty good press.” He does not know how many were printed.
Previously, the OCCHS was fortunate just to have a plat copy. When Hughes first came to the Westside in the mid-1970s, he got to know Lorene and Kenny Englert, who were the only people at the time focusing on Westside history. In the 1950s, Lorene had written an article on Colorado City for the Denver Post's Empire Magazine; it came to the attention of an employee of the National Archives in Washington, D.C., who had once apparently lived in Denver, Hughes related. The employee found a Fosdick plat in the Archives and made a copy of it for Lorene Englert. Englert gave Hughes the copy, which he donated to the OCCHS after helping start the group in the 1980s.
Hughes said the OCCHS plans to “digitize” its acquisition (which would require a professional photograph of the document that could then be stored on a computer). There are no plans yet to display the actual plat to the public, but if so it would have to be put under protective UV glass, he said.
Westside Pioneer article