Frontier Diary |

Frontier Diary

Willa SoncartyRegistrar, Frontier Historical Society and Museum
Frontier Historical Society photoIn the 1960s, a simple wooden sign marked the site of Carbonate, Garfield Countys first county seat. A mining camp built on speculation, the silver boom predicted at Carbonate never materialized, dashing the hopes of many fortune seekers.

Carbonate City was a place of dreams, hopes and speculation. The mining camp, located on the Flat Tops at an elevation of 10,783 feet, was a place where miners in the early 1880s scratched the surface and burrowed into the earth hoping for the big silver strike. Nothing of permanence came of Carbonate City until February of 1883, when Garfield County was created from Summit County. Carbonate City was named the seat of the newly-formed county.County government at Carbonate was conducted at the courthouse, which consisted of a 10-foot tall canvas tent measuring 16 feet by 24 feet. Inside, a long wooden table was piled high with large, leather-bound record books. Blocks of wood around the table served as stools. In one corner was a rusted stove, used for cooking and heating. A sign, nailed to the top of the tent read, “Garfield County Clerk and Recorder, Nims R.G. Ferguson.” However, as the summer of 1883 progressed, the Garfield County Commissioners grew concerned about the safety of the county’s records. With the first tax assessment not collectible until 1885, Garfield County could not afford to construct a fit building to house the records. On Aug. 21, 1883, the commissioners voted to temporarily move the records to Glenwood Springs where the citizens pledged to house the county government, free of charge, in suitable buildings until the county could afford to construct its own courthouse.As autumn 1883 progressed, clerk and recorder Ferguson contemplated moving the records. However, Ferguson had almost delayed too long. In October, winter descended with a vengeance, depositing nearly four feet of snow in a three-day period. Clerk Ferguson dismantled the official seat of county government. Tearing apart the canvas tent, he wrapped the legal books in what had been the walls and roof of the courthouse. All were secured to his jacks as howling wind and blowing snow ushered Garfield County government and the last of the fortune seekers from Carbonate.Three days later, Ferguson and the books reached Glenwood Springs, and on Nov. 6, 1883, voters made Glenwood Springs the official county seat.”Frontier Diary” is provided to the Post Independent by the Frontier Historical Society and Museum, 1001 Colorado Ave., Glenwood Springs. Summer hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

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