Early Colorado Christmas Part 2

Post written and copyright Doris McCraw








This is a second of two post on early Colorado Christmas. If you would like to read part one here is the link  http://renawomyn.blogspot.com.

A unique feature of Colorado is the difference in weather from the high plains/desert and the mountains. Weather on the plains can get very cold, but not receive snow like the mountains. On the plains you will get blowing snow and drifts. The mountains are sometimes warmer than the plains, but tend to received large amounts of snow.

The Moffat Road, along Coal Creek Canyon, was a feat of engineering as this 1909 photo shows. M. R. Campbell Photo, Courtesy USGS.


On one train ride a woman and her two children were leaving Kansas to go to Denver to live with her mother. The ranch she had tried to maintain after her husband’s death had been too much for her to handle. As the train proceeded from Kansas to Colorado, it was stopped by a large drift across the tracks on Christmas Eve. The two children were upset that they would not be able to spend Christmas with their grandmother. The train crew and the three male passengers made the children comfortable, placing their coats etc, near to the stove. While the children slept they filled the wealthy ranchers socks with gifts and on the morning of Christmas day the children had their Christmas thanks to the kindness of strangers.

USGS Marks 134 years of Science for America: A Most Unusual Birthday


For another family in the high mountains, their father had gone to a nearby town to purchase sweets and some gifts. On the way home, he and his traveling companions were caught in a blizzard. They dug down the three feet of snow to the bare ground and burning wood during the night along with the insulation of the snow were able to keep from freezing. Although he returned later than expected he made it home to spend Christmas with his family.

The 1874 Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind and the 1887 St. Francis Hospital (which later had a 1929 sanatorium building) was near the National …


Most towns and Colorado Springs was one, would have Christmas balls usually sponsored by fire hose companies or other organizations. The churches would also have celebrations.  For those living in town, there was always something to do during the holidays.

Even in the early days of Colorado’s history, Christmas was a time of family, sharing and celebration.


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Doris Gardner-McCraw/Angela Raines
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women’s History

Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/angelaraines-dorismccraw
Photo and Poem: http://fivesevenfivepage.blogspot.com
Blog: http://renawomyn.blogspot.com/ 







22 thoughts on “Early Colorado Christmas Part 2

  1. I so admire the pioneers and their tenacity and courage — they endured so much! Reminds me of the “Little House…” book, “The Long Winter” — tough times, caring people, hope-filled dreams. I’m like Mike — I especially enjoyed the train story and how the people came together especially for the children. Thanks for sharing these stories, Doris! MERRY CHRISTMAS!


    1. Gayle, I’m glad they reminded you of Little House. The train story does seem to be a favorite. Stay warm and enjoy the season. Merry Christmas to you. Doris


  2. Thank you for the look back at a time much different than ours, but maybe not so different after all. We all come together at Christmas to celebrate Jesus’s birth and that was as important then as now. I loved the train story – those were some lucky children! Those people trying to forge out a living in hard times were examples we should mirror today. There is much more important than all the parties, gifts and merry-making. It’s not that I disapprove of some of those things, but the main thing is to remember “the reason for the season”!


    1. Linda, they stories resonated with me also. Like you I enjoyed the train story, but being caught in a bliazzard…scary. You are right, the greatest time is made up of the small things we do for each other. Doris


    1. Thank you Robyn. What I love is the stories are far as my research shows are true. That is one of the joys of research, finding such great stories. Doris


  3. I lived in snow country as a kid (MI) but don’t remember it being a big deal, just tiresome after a while. As an adult I’ve been in some pretty good snow storms while skiing in the mountains. Getting caught without chains can make life really difficult and occasionally people do get snowed in for a few days. But being caught in a storm or snowed in during the 1800’s is a whole other thing. Glad I don’t have to put up with that.
    Interesting post.


    1. Kate, I like you had a lot of snow growing up, and it was just fun to play in. I’ve even been out driving in what became a very deadly blizzard. Still like you, I don’t know what I would have done in the 1800’s and that happened. Weather is a factor in so many things, but we sometimes forget about how it affected those in earlier times. Doris


  4. How sweet of the passengers to give the children a little Christmas joy. I’ve never ridden in a train (sad but true), but I’ll bet the view of Colorado was magnificent from the train windows as it wound its way through those mountains.
    Blizzards are no fun. In fact, they’re scary. I was in one while I lived in Omaha, Nebraska. I feel for the dad and his friends who managed to live through one without any real shelter. Makes me shiver to think of it. I like the kind of snow we usually have in North Carolina (if we have snow at all), here today; gone tomorrow.
    Wonderful blog for the holidays, Doris.


    1. Sarah, I agree. The story of the train just tugged at my heartstrings. There is actually more to the story, just not enough room to share it all here.
      I know what you mean about blizzard, I drove through the beginning of one here and it wasn’t fun. But where I live, the snow comes (only 17 inches total on average)it melts very quickly. We are so high and have so much sun.

      Thanks for stopping by, and may this season be all you wish it to be. Doris


    1. You are welcome Stephanie. I think this time of year it is good to remember the gift of giving results in the giver also receiving a gift. Doris


    1. Thank you S. J. Even though things might have been difficult, there are still so many things we still share with those from the past. Doris


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