Wednesday, May 15, 2019


Post by Doris McCraw
writing as Angela Raines

Burn Scars
Photo Property of the Author
We all know how dangerous fires were for those living in cities. We've heard of the Prairie Fires, but we sometimes forget the forest fires from the past.

Colorado has had its fair share of fires. This post is a look at a few from the 1800s.

There was said to be a fire around 1853-1854 that ran from north of Fountain Creek and up over Cheyenne Mountain, Ute pass to Wilkerson Divide. The story is told in the book "The Story of the Big Burn 1853-1854" by Herbert Sommers. According to forest service records, 1851 was a dry year, so fires in the early 1850s would not be out of the ordinary. The above fire was said to have burned for three weeks.

Before the westward expansion, the natives used fire to help in their hunting. Of course lightning was also a source of fires starting.

In 1880, there were fires being reported in the forest around Colorado. Of course 1879 had also been a very dry year.

This article from the June 19, 1880 Gunnison News newspaper talks about the fires from that year and the laws around starting such fires.

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The same issue talks about a fire that came close to burning the town of Breckenridge

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The June 12, 1880 issue of the Colorado Miner (weekly) talks about the Bear Creek fire

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And from the Dolores News issue of June 19, 1880 comes this overview of the state of fires in Colorado.

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So, although fires were part of life in the towns in the early days, the forest fires also were part of the struggles then as now.

In my latest novel "The Outlaw's Letter" my hero Grant has to outrun one of these fires as he makes his way back.


Doris Gardner-McCraw -
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Angela Raines - author: Where Love & History Meet
For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here 
Photo and Poem: Click Here 
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here

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