Maxfield saw potential in Rifle Valley
Abram Maxfield believed a greater opportunity and fortune was present in Western Colorado. So optimistic was Maxfield that, on July 27, 1882, he left the mining community of Battle Mountain located in Eagle County, and headed west. Accompanying Maxfield was fellow optimist Charles Marshall. Their supplies of food and equipment were packed by two horses, while two riding horses transported the men.Maxfield and Marshall followed the Grand (Colorado) River, and on Aug. 2, they came upon the Rifle Valley. Maxfield was not immune to the lure of Rifle Creek. The clear, abundant waters told him that a profitable farm could be made there. Marshall, however, gently disagreed. He attempted to persuade his traveling companion to search for better land farther west. Maxfield instead staked out the location to his claim. He then returned to Battle Mountain, retrieved his son Clinton, and the two returned to the new Maxfield homestead where they constructed a log cabin. After wintering in Battle Mountain, the Maxfield family, including his wife, Flora, moved into their new home in September 1883.Other settlers followed. Churches, schools and the trappings of civilization came with them. In 1889, the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad built to the Rifle Valley, and Maxfield, seeing an opportunity to build a commercial center, platted 80 acres of his land into a town. His son Clinton wanted to call the new town “Maxfield,” but Abram chose the name “Rifle” after the stream that had convinced him to settle there.In the 1890s, Maxfield continued to farm his remaining 80 acres and sell town lots. He built – and for a time, managed – the Winchester Hotel.Maxfield died in 1897, but lived long enough to see his town grow and prosper. He would be pleased to see that prosperity continue a century after Rifle’s incorporation.”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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