Post written and copyright Doris McCraw 2014
In tales of the Old West there was almost always conflict between the sheep and cattlemen. That was a true fact, especially when land became the all important marker for success. As more and more decided to take up cattle ranching, the more land needed to support large herds. In some areas it takes between 40-100 acres per animal. Sheep take a smaller ratio. Recent studies have indicated that grazing the two together may be of more benefit than grazing separately.
In the early to mid 1800’s, both were common in Colorado. In the Pikes Peak Region as the area was growing sheep were a primary source of income for many. Around the young town of Colorado Springs sheep, and the wool they produced was a major industry. In the earliest city directory, 1879, the wool growers outnumber the livestock growers almost 2:1. There were some who were listed as both wool grower and livestock grower.
In the early editions of the local paper, as they were touting the assets of the area, the clean air, the beauty of the scenery, they also spoke highly of the land and its suitability for sheep. If you remember that post on ‘Judge Baldwin’, he had a sheep ranch. The amount of wool shipped was covered and praised in those same papers.
Later cattle became the more popular choice and less and less was heard of the ‘wool growers’. The city directories started combining the two and it became more difficult to track. As the city grew other avenues of income became more important and the livestock industry got less and less coverage. Still, in those early years of the region and a lot of Colorado owe some of its success to sheep and cattle together. Now, Colorado is known for its high mountains, mining and skiing, but those early days are still a fascinating study and those early doctors had more than a bit of contact with and some stories of those days. Until next time, here is to history and the stories they can tell.
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