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Town scavenger a dirty job but somebody wanted to do it

Frontier DiaryWilla Soncarty, Registrar, Frontier Historical Society and Museum

As winter gave way to spring in 1887, the minds of Glenwood Springs citizens turned to matters involving health, sanitation and cleanliness. With no public water or sewage system in town, the spread of disease was of concern. It was time to clean up the community. In April 1887, a board of health was established, and immediately set into motion a series of events designed to promote good public health. In its first order of business, the board petitioned City Council to remove the bodies from Glenwood Cemetery, located near today’s 12th Street ditch and Palmer Avenue, to the new Linwood Cemetery. The moving of the bodies from a mudslide area would lessen the chance of cadaver disturbance and spread of disease. Secondly, with backyard garbage piles mounting, a city dump was founded. And finally, the appointment of a town scavenger (town trash collector) was made. Richard Hewson was Glenwood’s first town scavenger. With this responsibility he had to “see that all dead animals are promptly removed to the dumping ground and that no swill, slops, offal, garbage, litter, or any unsound, putrid or offensive matter or thing deleterious to the public health or offensive to the smell” littered the town’s streets, alleys or lots. He was also charged to ensure that privy vaults were cleaned. Although he had the powers of a policeman, he had to furnish his own vehicle to transport the refuse. By the end of Hewson’s one-year term, he had cleaned up Glenwood Springs. His services cost the city about $970, with $320 earned by moving bodies from Glenwood Cemetery to Linwood Cemetery. The town scavenger had a dirty job, but thankfully Richard Hewson wanted to do it.”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. Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.


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