Letters to the editor
Prior to June 1, 1880, the land that became Eagle County and Gypsum Valley was property of the U.S. government and occupied by the Ute Indians.
The result of the so-called Meeker Massacre, September 29, 1879, was a decision made in Washington, D.C., stating that the Utes and the whites could no longer co-exist. On June 1, 1880, all of the western and northern Utes were moved to the Uintah-Ouray Reservation in Utah.
The final treaties of 1882 assured the absence of the Utes from Eagle County, where they may have roamed and lived for thousands of years. The Indian lands were opened to homesteading and the white man came to the valleys draining north into the Eagle River.
The wildest, straightest and flattest of the valleys and the closest to the mouth of the river is the Gypsum Valley, so named for the hills to the north.
The first settlers who became ranchers were the Grundel Brothers, lately from Michigan and Sweden – their ranches took up the north half or lower valley. They sold out to a gentleman named A.P. Henderson and for all of my life until the Vail Valley boom it was called the Henderson Place.
Meanwhile, beginning in the late 1800s (see story by Kathy Heicher, 116 years of history on Gypsum Creek, The Eagle Valley Enterprise, June 12, 2003) the Doll Brothers from Canton, Ohio, homesteaded, and bought and traded for the south end of the valley.
After about 50 years the “Big Ranch,” as called by most, became the property of Chuck Albertson, a descendent and member of another homesteading family from the Burns area. All of the men mentioned above were first-class ranchers, raising high quality livestock and the best of farm crops.
The northern portion of the valley was purchased by local developers who had a golf course constructed and named it Cotton Ranch. In the mountainous west, cotton is a very irritating blossom of the many cottonwood trees prevalent along streams and ditch banks.
Of late Mr. Albertson has passed from the scene and his property, lately called the Doll-Albertson Ranch, has been sold. We are told it will be named VALAGUA. When questioned as to the meaning of that name, Spanish teachers and others have said it has no meaning in the Spanish language.
Eagle County has a 125-year tradition of naming places and things to fit the terrain, the people or some feature that describes the place. Beaver Creek and the Park Hyatt Hotel have named everything in the area in that manner.
We are proud of the tradition and cherish the names Brush Creek, Lake Creek, Red Cliff, McCoy and hundreds of others.
In Gypsum Valley, places could be named after the first people: Ouray, Shavano, Sapovanero, all chiefs. Or the wife of Ouray, Chipeta. The early population of the valley was almost all of Scandinavian descent: Grundel, Olson, Oleson, Erickson, Bobson, Engstom. There were other people, too: Stratton, Daggett, Borah, Skiff, Slaughter, Doll. The terrain features are Hoosier Mountain, Hardscrabble Mountain, Cottonwood Pass, Red Hill, Gypsum Creek, Old Man’s Gulch, The Mesa.
Seems like it would be a bigger, more colorful feather in your hat to stay with the local and historical mix than to bring in new names not fitting the area and having no known meaning about anything.
Editor’s note: Frank Doll is a lifelong resident of Eagle County, schooled there and graduated from Colorado State University, a veteran and retiree of the U. S. Army, lifetime member of the Eagle County and Colorado State Historical Society, official historian and storyteller for the past 12 years at the Park Hyatt Hotel in Beaver Creek.
Great fireworks show at fairgrounds
I just want to say thank you to the Town of Eagle, Town of Gypsum and Eagle County for all the time, energy and money they put into the Fourth of July Celebration.
My family and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I hope that this will be the beginning of a new tradition. Again, thank you, and keep up the good work.