Street scene in the early days of Montrose
Date: Between approx. 1905 and 1915
View along Main Street in early Montrose. Shows a horse-drawn carriage, bicycles, and two men talking. Signs include: "The Humphries
Mercantile Co. Dry Goods, Clothing, Hats & Shoes" "Montrose National Bank" and C. J. Getz, Pharmacist, Druggist."
Source: http://www.photoswest.org ~ and~ the Library of Congress
Montrose, Colorado High School graduation - 1901
The Montrose High School graduating class of 1901, from Montrose, Colorado, consists of six young women and three young men. The women
wear white dresses and the men wear darkly colored suits. One of the men, balding and mustachioed, is possibly the teacher.
Source: Western History/Genealogy Dept., Denver Public Library and the Library of Congress
The first settlers came to the Uncompahgre Valley in the 1870s, but legally could not purchase land until after September 1881, when the Ute
Indians were removed from their land and put on a reservation in Utah. The first stake was driven in December of 1881 and in 1882 Montrose
officially became a town.
The town was known by the names of Pomona, Dad’s Town, Uncompahgre Town, and several other names, before it finally came to be known as
Montrose. Joseph Selig suggested the name Montrose after a favorite character in Sir Walter Scott’s novel, The Legend of Montrose.
The town of Montrose was founded originally to provide supplies to nearby mining communities. With the mines' decline, agriculture soon took
over as the major economy. Settlers worked the fertile valley soil producing fruits, grains, vegetables and livestock.
The Gunnison Tunnel, constructed to provide vital irrigation water to the valley, opened in 1909. Its opening was highlighted by the visit of
President Taft and signaled the beginning of a new era of agricultural production in Montrose.
In 1882, the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad Co. built its narrow gauge mainline railroad through Montrose on its way from Denver to Salt Lake
City, Utah. In 1890 the D&RGRR completed its standard gauge railroad from Denver to Grand Junction, leaving Montrose on the narrow gauge
from Salida to Grand Junction and Ouray. In 1906, the track from Grand Junction to Montrose was changed from narrow gauge to standard
The same strategic location that led to Montrose becoming a hub for transportation and commerce at its founding, still serves as an asset today.
Although much has changed since the city’s beginning in 1882, Montrose continues as a thriving gateway to the many wonders of Western
A Walk of Local Legends and True Tales hosted by The Montrose County Historical Museum, 1 p.m.,Saturday, October 15th, 2011, begins at
museum, corner of Main Street and Rio Grande Avenue in Montrose, donations accepted, space limited, RSVP at 249-2085.
Local Legends and True Tales Walk
Montrose Museum Hosts Walking Tour This Week and Next
October 13th & 15th, 2011
by Beverly Corbell
MONTROSE – The Montrose County Historical Museum is sponsoring a walk through downtown Montrose this week and next to raise funds for
the museum and so that visitors can learn about local history.
Museum director Sally Johnson will lead the walks, called “Local Legends and True Tales Walk,” which will start at the museum at 5 p.m. today
and next Thursday, and at 1 p.m. this Saturday and next Saturday.
Johnson said she has done a lot of research, and all the old buildings have stories to tell. The walks will be conducted down alleyways behind
the first few blocks of East Main Street.
“We will start at the museum and go downtown, and several of our downtown old historic businesses have quite a history behind them,” she said.
Johnson will not only explain the history of each historic building, but will also share stories about bootleggers, ghosts and eccentric characters
from Montrose’s history.
“There is history here that people have forgotten,” she said. “I’ll talk about some of the famous murder trials that happened here and some of the
merchants have invited me to their basements… We have three jails in the alleys that people don’t know about.”
If visitors want to prepare a little before taking the walk, they can buy the book Montrose: Take a Closer Look by Cathleen M. Norman and
Marilyn S. Cox, a former museum curator. The book is on sale at the museum.
Page 43 of the book tells the story of the E.J. Matthews Mercantile, which was located in a building at the corner of East Main Street and South
Cascade Avenue, where the Daily Bread Bakery is now located on the ground floor.
“The store offered groceries, produce, hay and grain,” the book reads. “By 1904 the firm became known as Callaway Brothers or the Corner
Grocery… By 1908, a cigar store operated in the storefront behind the grocery store. J.F. Krebs purchased the building in the early 1900s…”
The building is still in the family, and is owned by Barb and Stu Krebs.
Architectural features of the building include a tall molded cornice and decorative brickwork in the shape of a diamond on the east elevations,
the book states.
Johnson has also uncovered interesting characters, like a woman known only as May, who was formerly a model in New York City and wore
gloves everywhere she went.
Another building that’s stayed in the family is the Hartman Brothers Store, built by early day entrepreneurs Sid and Joe Hartman in 1912 at a cost
of $20,000, according to the Norman and Cox book. The original Hartman brothers started out selling their own inventions, such as windmills,
hay derricks and other farm gadgets” as well as bicycle parts and repairs. They later expanded the business to include car repair and a car
dealership, which for many years was the largest on the Western Slope.
Although it’s been modernized in recent years, Montrose City Hall has its own history. It was designed by local architect J.H. Antrobus and was
constructed in 1927. The Fox Theater on South Cascade Avenue was also built in the 1920s and was designed by Dick Dickson in the Exotic
Revival style with a dome and minaret on the roof “as a means to convey the fantasy within,” according to Norman and Cox’s book.
The museum is located in the town’s old train depot and houses both indoor and outdoor exhibits, said Zilla May Brown, president of the
Montrose County Historical Society. On the grounds outside are many examples of old farm equipment and conveyances, such as the
stagecoach that once ran from Montrose to Ouray and Silverton and back, Brown said, and also includes an old ice wagon and a railroad
“All of our collections are made up from things donated by local people,” Brown said. “There’s nothing Hollywood about it and it’s all authentic
Inside, the museum has many examples from ranching and farming life, medical equipment from local offices, telephone displays, clothing from
past eras, and many photographs on the walls.
“We have the largest collection of historic Montrose photographs in the area,” she said. “We also have artifacts from the Gunnison Tunnel
construction, and it’s a large and varied collection.”
Admission for the guided walking tour will be by donation. For more information, call 249-2085.
Montrose County Historical Society
21 N. Rio Grande
PO Box 1882
Montrose, CO 81402
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