Running horses down Grand Avenue
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
One of Jerome Gamba’s most memorable summer jobs as a young man growing up in the Roaring Fork Valley was trail riding for Pearl “Tommy” Thompson. “Tommy” had earned a national and international reputation for operating one of the best summer horseback adventures in the world. Here Jerome describes a very special ride home at the end of the summer.
Gamba: I worked for “Tommy” Thompson two summers, the summer of 1949 and the summer of 1950. It was a wonderful job. We would start in Marble with 100 head of horses, a crew of 15 people or more and 35 guests. The guests were from all over the world.
We would wander for two weeks through the Elk Mountains and end up at Conundrum Hot Springs above Aspen. We would turn the first group of “dudes” loose and pick up another group and then wander back through the Elk Mountains to Marble.
Of course when all of the “dudes” were turned loose at the end of the summer, the horses had to be brought back. Some of the horses were leased from a rancher in Meeker. A cowboy had trailed a pretty good bunch clear across the Flat Tops and down into Glenwood all by himself earlier that summer.
So on this occasion, we had trailed the horses from Marble down to Carbondale in a day. The next day we brought them across Dry Park along the road, down into Four Mile and across the old Cardiff bridge there by the cemetery in Glenwood.
Our plan was to bring them to the barn just below Tommy’s house in north Glenwood (the top of Laurel Street). So we were coming down south Grand Avenue. In those days, it was a narrow two-lane road lined with big cottonwoods and what I would describe as lovely, little “farmettes.” Everybody had gardens and nice green lawns, and these ponies had been on the trail for two days and they were pretty hungry.
My sister was riding point with another person and I was with a guy by the name of Butch Dahlberg. We were making pretty slow progress because we had to constantly get the horses out of people’s yards. We got to about where the high school is now and I said, “Butch we’ve got to move them or we’re gonna have them all over town.”
So I got my rope off and started hittin’ horses on the rump and hoopin’ and hollerin’. My sister looked back at me and realized what I had in mind. Within a block we had the whole bunch at a dead run down Grand Avenue. It was a sunny afternoon in August. Of course there were no stoplights then and away we went right on down Grand at a dead run.
The horses knew where they were goin’ and they ran right up and across the Grand Avenue bridge, took a left down what was Highway 6 and 24, took a right on Laurel and up into the corral. We were all O.K. We didn’t lose a horse. It is a wonder we didn’t kill somebody.
Gallacher: Or get ticketed.
Gamba: No, we didn’t get ticketed. But I’m sure, if you tried to do that today, you’d probably kill a horse or two and be in trouble with a lot of people. Anyway, it worked fine and it was a lot of fun and I suspect we were the last people to ever do that.
Immigrant Stories runs every Monday in the Post Independent.
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The Glenwood Springs Fire Department is battling a small blaze on a ridgeline west of Yampah Mountain High School.