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Frontier Diary

Willa Soncarty
Registrar, Frontier Historical Society and Museum

At nearly 30 years of age, Dr. Marshall H. Dean came to the Roaring Fork Valley to establish a medical practice. The year was 1887. The railroads were being built to the valley, opening up settlement and bringing with it settlers who would require medical attention. Dean surveyed the area and found promise in a small town called Carbondale.

Dean quickly established his private Carbondale practice while at the same time being hired by the Denver and Rio Grand Railroad as its surgeon. He gained a reputation for precision and gentleness as a physician. His knowledge was also respected. One settler said that Dean “had more good old horse sense that any man I ever knew.” Given that the settler was a horseman, it was probably the highest compliment Dean could have received.

Medical needs know no boundaries. Dean often traveled to the coal camps of Spring Gulch and Marion to tend to the ill. Despite the long hours, Dean still found time to be civically active. He was elected Carbondale’s first mayor in 1888.



Sadness filled Carbondale in 1893 when Dean moved his family and practice to Glenwood Springs. While here the doctor oversaw the births of numerous babies and the deaths of the terminally ill and elderly. The victims of train accidents and of violent crime often received his care.

Dean began construction of his new residence at 1001 Colorado Ave. in the spring of 1904. The family moved in to the house that winter. In November 1905, Dean moved his medical practice from downtown Glenwood Springs into the family home.



Dean and his family moved from Glenwood Springs to Denver in 1908. The house which served as his home and office is today occupied by the Frontier Historical Museum.

“Frontier Diary” is provided to the Post Independent by the Frontier Historical Society and Museum, 1001 Colorado Ave., Glenwood Springs. Winter hours are 1-4 p.m. Monday and Thursday through Saturday.


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