They cut ties

Railroad ties decked for hauling in lodgepole pine timber, Colorado National Forest.
Mel McFarland
Posted

An extensive survey into the lumber market was being taken by officials of the Pike forestry service as the first step in executing a timber management plan in late 1925.

The plan was to provide for opening to utilization by sawmill operators. A periodically increasing acreage of loggable timber was going on in the Pike forest.

The forest had recently been established and expanded in size. The project was gradually getting underway, directed by E.S. Keithley, of the Pike forestry service.

A number of logging operators were already working under contracts in the Pike forest cutting railroad ties for the Denver & Rio Grande Western and the Midland Terminal railroads. Officials of the Pike service, who were promoting the project, were making an extensive investigation into the needs of the state lumber market to ascertain the extent of the demand in order not precipitate a boom, which would cause a detriment of local operators and the management plan itself. Cutting was limited and controlled by Mr. Keithley. The timber was generally brought to Divide or Woodland Park for shipment by train.

Some 50 years before this, and the establishment of the Pike National Forest, there were logging operations in the area around the top of Ute Pass and in Black Forest. This timber was cut not only for the railroads, but the use by the many people moving into the area, as it grew. In upper Ute Pass, the area between what would become Woodland Park and West Creek was cut for Dr. W.A. Bell, one of General Palmer’s associates. It was the timbering in Ute Pass that brought the attention of the railroads to the area. Bell wanted to build a railroad through the pass to take the timber to Manitou, however, his cutting stopped before the Midland was finished in 1887. Cutting more or less stopped in this area around 1890.

The development in the timber cutting operations occasionally saw these small operations, which came under national forest control after World War I. One of these was headquartered near West Creek. It was operated by the Stapish family, who cut timber between Manitou Park and West Creek up into the 1960s. The Hayman Fire, a few years ago, just about erased any sign of their work.

My grandfather would venture up to a Stapish Camp, during the summers in the late 1940’s and early 1950s. I can remember traveling up and visiting occasionally. Years ago, a deputy sheriff took me to the site of Bell’s sawmill, which is now almost in Woodland Park!