Today in Postal History

United States - Colorado
August 9, 1876

This card was sent from Jamestown where it received a manuscript cancel on August 9, 1876.
Jamestown was a mining town in Boulder County on the James River.

This postal card (Scott UX5) missed being a territorial cover by 9 days.
Colorado became a state on August 1, 1876.
Note that the writer had not yet changed his habit of using Terr after Colorado.

At the time, all of the towns involved except perhaps Boulder were mining towns.
And Boulder depended on supplying the mining towns for much of its commerce.
The Jamestown area was first prospected by George Zweck in 1860.
He found galena (lead sulfide often containing silver)
deposits after three or four years leading to a 3 year boomlet.

Jamestown did get its post office on January 8, 1867.
The residents wanted it named Jimtown but apparently
the Post Office Department thought that was too undignified and selected Jamestown.
It is still open.

However, after the short boom, Jamestown was all but deserted
for ten years until a find of gold float in 1875 led to a second boom.

The income of the Jamestown postmaster showed the effects of the boom started in 1875.
Fiscal Year ending June 30
Charles T. Pease
Mary Spackman
J. M Amsden

There are no territorial postmarks from Jamestown noted in
Jarrett's Colorado Territorial and Pre-Territorial Postmarks.
However, Richard Frajola provided a census of
"Colorado Postal Markings to 1900 Boulder County" in the May, 1991, La Posta.
His record showed manuscript markings
from Jamestown betwen 2 Oct. 68? and 3 Mar. 80.
He judged the valuation rarity of the cover as 5 ($100-$200) for both
confirmed territorial and unconfirmed territorial or statehood usages.

The card was addressed to D. K. Cassiday in Rawlingsville, Colorado Terr
(Rollinsville) only 13 or so miles from Jamestown as the crow flies.
However, as with most mountain routes, it took a much longer route to get there.

Rollinsville was the east end of the first route over the
Continental Divide into the area known as Middle Park.
The Indian trail over the mountains was improved by General John Q. Rollins
and run as a toll road until Berthoud Pass was opened.
He named the route Rollins Pass.
In 1876, the only travel over the pass was by riders and freighters.

Rollinsville became the start of the
Corona Pass route of the Denver, Northwestern,
and Pacific Railroad built between 1902 and 1908.
Corona Pass was a remarkable railroading challenge
with some of the worst winter weather of any railroad in the world.
The route was so difficult in winter that the railroad
budgeted 41% of its expenses for snow removal.

Rollinsville would ultimately become the East Portal of the Moffat Tunnel
built to replace the challenging route over the pass.
The Moffat Tunnel went through the Rockies from the west end of the
Tolland Creek Valley to what is now the Winter Park ski area.

In 1876, however, Rollinsville was a junction of the Rollins Pass
toll road and the route from Estes Park to Central City.
Later, this route would be known as the "Peak to Peak Highway."

Modern Map of the Area
En route, the cover received a Nederland transit mark on August 12.
The arrangement of the postmark suggests that at one time it might have said COL T.
The T could well have been carved off after Statehood.
Jarrett ranked Nederland territorial cancels as 4 to 6 known with
some question regarding problems in confirming the year.

Nederland was near the south end of the route.
Nederland started as a mill town refining ore in 1870.
It wasn't until March 2, 1874, that it got a post office.
In the fiscal year ending June 30, 1875, Postmaster
J. B. Rouillard's compensation was $513.17!
In the same year, Postmaster F. T. Gooch in Rollinsville received $65.86.
(I have been unable to find records for their FY1877 compensation.)

I do not know the route this card took but the passage through Nederland suggests
that the card was carried down the James Creek to Left Hand Creek
where there was a toll road leading west to Left Hand Canyon.
The next stop on the route was Ward - a prosperous mining camp started in 1860.
The route would then travel south to Nederland and on to Rollinsville.
The total distance was probably no more than 30 miles or so
but the terrain was difficult, the roads were primitive, and
the only conveyances were horses, mules, oxen, and wagons.

An alternative route would have taken the card down
Left Hand Creek to the 'Olde Stage Road' at the foot of
the front range and going six miles south into Boulder.
Then the card would have been taken west southwest up
Boulder Creek to Nederland and then south to Rollinsville

The portion of the route from Wars to Nederland to Rollinsville is now part
of the Peak to Peak Highway which runs from Estes Park to Black Hawk.

The card's arrival date in Rollinsville is unknown..

This cover was sold for $196.50 on eBay on February 20, 2004.
The bidding was instructive in that there were only five single bids by five bidders.
The opening bid for the lot was $9.99.
The first bid was made at 11:06.
At 15:06 a second bid raised the price to $49.89.
At 16 seconds to go at 22:43:50, the price was at $52 with three bids.
A first sniper bid at 15 seconds to go and the price jumped to $130.20.
The last snipe occurred with 5 seconds to go and the price jumped to $196.50.
The winner made his bid at 20:07 with 2 hours and 38 minutes to go.
Clearly there was a lot of interest in this lot.
The seller was bfs501.


Today in Postal History
January February March April May June
July August September October November December

Pastnotes Index - The First 300 and the Next 208
provides more tidbits about stamps and collectors.

Comments? Send me an e-mail
Please include a reference to this item.