John Cleveland Osgood, ‘fuel king of the West,’ developed Redstone
To John Cleveland Osgood, the numbers on the ledgers told a story. As bookkeeper for the Union Coal Co. in Ottumwa, Iowa, the 19-year-old Osgood saw wealth to be made in the coal industry. He knew that his fortunes were to be found in the West.Osgood traveled to Colorado, and in 1882 came to survey an area near Glenwood Springs which was to be named Coal Basin. He purchased mining claims in the area as well as in other portions of the state, and in 1884 organized the Colorado Fuel Co.In 1892, Osgood’s Colorado Fuel Co. acquired its main competitor, the Colorado Coal and Iron Co., creating the Colorado Fuel and Iron Co. Now owning thousands of acres of coal land, 14 operating mines, hundreds of coke ovens, and steel plants in Colorado, Wyoming and the New Mexico Territory, Osgood became the undisputed “fuel king of the West.”Osgood began the development of Redstone on the Crystal River near Carbondale in 1898. This savvy businessman knew a good working and living environment for his employees would increase productivity, attract a higher class of worker and prevent union organization. Therefore, the clean, painted cottages and amenities of the Redstone community provided stability to the coal mining camp. In 1903, Osgood completed his own Redstone residence, the $2.5 million Cleveholm. With 42 rooms, the English Tudor-styled manor boasted oak paneling, ceilings of green hand-tooled leather and gold leaf stencil, marble fireplaces and Tiffany light fixtures. The extensive Cleveholm grounds also contained a greenhouse and game preserve.Osgood died in 1926. The ashes of the “fuel king of the West” were scattered at Cleveholm and along the Crystal River. “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, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
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