The Hardwick family settled Four Mile Ranch, Westbank | PostIndependent.com
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The Hardwick family settled Four Mile Ranch, Westbank

Frontier Diary
Willa Soncarty
Registrar, Frontier Historical Societyand Museum
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Glenwood Springs CO Colorado

“My grandfather, whose brand was H, ran a small bunch of cattle. About once a year he would drive through to Leadville with stock, and return with sufficient supplies to last until the trip the following year.” – J.T. Jessee, remembering his grandfather, John Milton Hardwick, WPA Oral History Project, 1934

John Milton Hardwick, his wife Sarah, and eight of their 13 children moved from Clay County, Mo., to El Paso County, Colo., in 1879. The family was comfortably settling into farming when they received word of the wonderful opportunities opening up in the Roaring Fork Valley.



Deciding that there was true potential, John Hardwick and his son Robert moved westward. Father and son came to the Roaring Fork Valley and took up ranches on Four Mile Creek in 1881.

James and John W. Hardwick, two more sons of John Milton Hardwick, followed a year later. They settled near the Roaring Fork River at what is today’s Westbank Ranch Subdivision. Soon, Sarah Hardwick followed, as did five of John Milton and Sarah Hardwick’s daughters, two more sons, and three grandchildren.



Life on the land required constant hard work. While John Milton worked to grow stock and crops on their Four Mile Ranch, Sarah Hardwick was charged with the comforts of the family. But while John and Sarah lived off of the land, they also had to defend themselves from their neighbors.

In October 1884, John Milton Hardwick found himself in a confrontation with a man accusing Hardwick of trying to jump the claim to his ranch. The angry neighbor brandished a gun, but brought no harm to Hardwick.

The need for a bridge across the Roaring Fork River brought attention to the ranch of John W. Hardwick. In February 1890, the Garfield County commissioners saw the necessity to connect a new road on the south side of the Roaring Fork River to the established county road on the river’s north side. Building a bridge at the Hardwick Ranch created a logical connection of the roads. With the commissioners unable to secure a bid for the new bridge, they solved the problem by dismantling Glenwood Springs’ Cooper Avenue Bridge and setting it at the new location. The bridge then became known as the Hardwick Bridge.

John Milton Hardwick died in 1899 and Sarah died in 1917. While the original Hardwick Bridge has been replaced, the current structure at Westbank Ranch continues to pay tribute in name to a pioneering family.

“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. For more information, call 945-4448.


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