All about apples and the old Eagle County stagecoach road: Kids Corner for the week of 11/2/20

Editor’s note: The Vail Daily’s weekly kids section is chock full of activities and fun to keep the young and the young at heart entertained during the pandemic. If you have an idea for the section or would like to get involved, email Entertainment Editor Casey Russell at

Time travel

Learn about Eagle County history each week.

A stagecoach departs from the Star Hotel in Red Cliff in 1879.
Courtesy ECHS/EVLD

When Eagle County was formed in 1883, the railroad had not yet been extended through the Eagle River Valley. However, the silver mining camps were booming at Red Cliff and Dotsero, and the eager miners needed a way to travel across the county.

So, they built a 51.5 mile road connecting the opposite ends of the valley. The rough pioneer road was suitable for horses, wagons, and the only form of mass-transit available, stagecoaches. These sturdy carriages were typically drawn by four horses, and were used for transporting people, freight and mail.

From Red Cliff, the toll road zig-zagged down Battle Mountain on an often-dangerous route. One particularly notorious stretch was known as “Hole in the Rock,” a steep downhill section that was the site of numerous accidents. Aware of the dangers, the county commissioners provided the safety measure of a thick rope secured to a large tree. Drivers could hook the rope to the stage axle and gradually snub the vehicle down the hill.

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Once down from Battle Mountain, the stage road followed the Eagle River down to Squaw Creek. However, the pioneers needed to avoid “Elbow Canyon,” a red rock canyon west of Wolcott that would force numerous crossings of the Eagle River. Instead, the stage route turned up Squaw Creek, then headed southwest across Bellyache Mountain, descending down to the backside of Eagle via Trail Gulch or Road Gulch.  At Eagle, the road once again paralleled the Eagle River, with a river crossing at Gypsum.

Passengers typically paid 12-13 cents per mile to ride the stagecoach. The average stagecoach speed was five miles per hour, and stages typically travelled 50-60 miles per day. Stage stations were set up every 10-15 miles where horse teams could be changed out and passengers could take a rest or meal break.

Once the railroad was built through the valley in 1887, people preferred the faster, more comfortable rail travel. Stagecoaches gradually disappeared from the county, although some of the old rutted roads now sometimes serve as hiking trails.

Time Travel is researched and written by Kathy Heicher, president of the Eagle County Historical Society. Learn more about ECHS at

Riddle me this

Test your wits and smarts with these riddles.

Click or hover over the black boxes to reveal the answer.


Riddle: How many apples grow on a tree?

All of them.

Riddle: If there are six apples and you take away four, how many do you have?

Four: you took them.


Riddle: What kind of apple is not an apple?

A pineapple.

Riddle: What kind of apple has a short temper?

A crab apple.

Word of the Week

Learn new words in English and Spanish each week.

apple / la manzana

Special to the Daily

Outside Scoop


There are more than 7,500 varieties of apples in the world. In the United States, there are roughly 2,500 kinds of apple trees. Here in Colorado and the Vail Valley, reliable varieties listed from Colorado State’s Plant Talk are Cox Orange, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, McIntosh, Jonathan, Fameuse, Northwest Greening, Joyce, Wealthy, Lodi and Haralson.

Apples in the valley come in many colors from bright red to stunning yellow and glowing green. Did you know there is even a rare apple breed that is a purple hue? It’s called the Black Diamond Apple from the family of Hua Nia apples that is cultivated in a high Tibetan region. The bizarre color is due to the region’s high altitude: much, much higher than Vail Valley.

The Western Slope of Colorado used to be one of the biggest fruit-growing and apple regions in the United States. With climate change and different needs of the communities, more grapes have been planted there and land is utilized for non-agricultural purposes. Apples like a maximum living altitude of 8,500 feet above sea level which makes much of Eagle County uninhabitable for the fruit tree. Nonetheless, there are many heritage and heirloom apple trees in lower parts of the valley and also throughout landscaping and parks.

What’s the most popular apple that is grown in the United States? The Red Delicious Apple. Introduced to the world in the 1880s on Iowa orchards, the red delicious apple is bright red, mild and crunchy.

Outside Scoop is submitted by freelance journalist Julie Bielenberg. Contact her at

Coloring page

This week’s coloring page is submitted by local illustrator Jasmine Valdez. Follow her on Instagram at @artgirl_studios.
Jasmine Valdez | Special to the Daily

Print the page here.

Learn how to make your own coloring pages here.

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