5. Wetmore, Hardscrabble and Early Communities

Wetmore, Colorado

Mile marker 26.4, Highway 96

 Over 150 years ago, buckskin-clad French traders, scrappy American and Mexican farmers and their families lived in nearby settlements. In the 1830s, several Anglo trappers built a fort on Adobe Creek. This was a strategic location because it was the nearest access point from the East into the Rocky Mountains. Whoever was located here would have the first shot at trading with the mountain based Ute Indians. The fort was called Buzzard's Roost, or Maurice's Fort, after Maurice LeDuc, one of its founders.

In 1844, several Americans from El Pueblo established a trading post at San Buenaventura de los Tres Arrollos. The name of the town and creek was later changed to
Hardscrabble. The reason, according to settler George Simpson, was due to the hard scrabbling to get in a crop in the gravelly soil.

By 1844, one trader, Mathew Kinkead, had switched from selling goods to raising cattle. In the Pueblo Hardscrabble Greenhorn, Janet Lecompte describes men of this region as: ...the first white settlers, farmers and stockmen of the Rocky Mountain West.

Life in these early outposts was hard by today's standards. Men spent their days hunting, fishing, trading and tending crops and cattle. The women vested and prepared food, helped care for the animals, cleaned, and cared for the children. Their leisure pursuits included picking berries, taking walks and chatting with their neighbors.
Some of the men played poker and drank whiskey. Everyone joined in the fun at Fandango parties with music and dancing. Their use of the Spanish word Fandango, meaning a wild party, speaks of the residents strong ties to Mexico. Many of the Americans wives were Mexican. Since the settlement was south of the Arkansas River, it was illegally situated in Mexican territory.

By 1846, a lack of sufficient water crops had some of Hardscrabble"s residents packing. When Fremont came through the area in 1848, Hardscrabble was almost deserted.
That same year, gold was discovered in California and many local families headed west. New settlers moved to the area in 1870 and built one fo the frirst Baptist churches in Colorado.

The communities of Wetmore and Greenwood also date back to teh 1870s.