Where it all began: Maxfield, Colorado?
Telegram Staff Writer
Although he declined to have the town named after him, Abram W. Maxfield was the founder of Rifle. A good 23 years before Rifle’s incorporation, Maxfield staked a claim for his ranch near the confluence of Rifle Creek and what was then called the Grand River ” today’s Colorado River ” on Aug. 2, 1882.
Maxfield and his son, Clinton, later built the first cabin in Rifle. Now long gone, it was in the center of the block bound by Second and Third streets and East and Whiteriver avenues, just one block east today of Rifle’s downtown.
The book “Rifle Shots,” by the Rifle Reading Club, has this excerpt written by Maxfield’s wife, Flora:
“About the 27th day of July, 1882, Abram W. Maxfield and Charles Marshall left the mining camp on Battle Mountain in Eagle County, Colorado, riding two horses and leading two extra horses, packed with bedding, compass, axes and provisions. They wended their way over hill and dale, through gorge and stream, down into the valley of the Grand River. Fifteen or 20 miles a day was good traveling. However, on the first night of August, they camped with George Ferguson on his ranch, now known as Silt.
The morning of the second day of August, the two men saddled their horses and headed westward, keeping close to the river and down the valley. About noon, they reached the Rifle valley and after looking over the position, Mr. Maxfield concluded to drive his location stakes.
Mr. Marshall, however, remonstrated gently, saying, “Maxfield, you are surely not going to stop here. I’m sure there must be something better further down. Come on with me to Roan Creek.”
“No,” replied Mr. Maxfield. “This is good enough for me. I see where I can get water out of Rifle Creek, and have it right on the ranch. No sir, I’ll stop right now and here I’ll raise my Ebenezer.”
And forthwith he began to drive his location stakes into the soil that is now covered by the busy town of Rifle.
The next day, Mr. Maxfield turned his face homeward toward Battle Mountain. A few weeks later, he returned to the Rifle valley, bringing his son, Clinton, with him. Together they got out a set of house logs and built the first log cabin in Rifle. Two years later, they built an adobe addition. By the time the cabin was built, the snow was getting deep on the mountain ranges and they concluded to return to their mountain home.
The following July, Mr. Maxfield moved his family down the valley and camped in Glenwood Springs for two months. There being no highways except Indian trails over mountains and through valleys, it was with considerable difficulty that he got his family moved. At one point on the route, he had to take his wagon to piece and pack it over the top of the mountain and put it together where he could hitch his horses to it. It was the first wagon to come west of Glenwood Springs.
Thus, obstacle after obstacle was met with and overcome, and finally the family and household goods were deposited in the little log cabin with a joy and satisfaction that only a pioneer can know.
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