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Joel Estes Colorado Territory Exploration 1833-1834

Marshall Cook, Colorado Early Days, a manuscript written in the early 1880’s presented by his daughter, Mrs. H. A. Clingenpeel, Johnstown, CO. September 1932. p. 132.

In the early spring of 1833 Peter Estes (age 59), Joel Estes (age 27) WM. Poe, John Sollars, Joseph Gladden, Antione Roubideaux, left Independence Missouri in the company with seventy other traders, trappers, and adventures for the Rocky Mountains and Santa Fe , NM. Taking with them a stock of goods, some to trade with the Indians, others to trade with the Mexicans, while others had provisions to subsist upon while they trapped along the mountains for fur bearing animals. After a long and tedious journey they arrived at their different places of destination.

The part of the company that arrived at Santa Fe learned in a day or two that rich placer mines had been recently discovered only 27 miles from Santa Fe, Real Delores, or Old Placer. A great excitement prevailed. The two Estes, Poe, Sollars, and Gladen being Georgia miners, repaired to the newly discovered mines immediately on learning for a certainty of their vast richness. Selling their outfits ecept for what they wanted to subsist upon, turned their attention to mining and did well until one of their party, Joel Estes, had made some trouble with a Mexican in regard to the title of some mining claim--- was arrested, had a trail before a Mexican Alcadde (Judge), and was convicted of a misdemeanor, and sentenced to several months of hard labor in the mines or a fine of $100.00 which he paid, and the party continued to mine on the ground not in dispute, keeping their own secrets, and worked until the water dried up, having taken out several thousand dollars in a short time, when they with others made up a company of 25 miners, independent trappers and hunters to prospect the country along the eastern base of the Sierra madre Mountains, brought up some pack animals, and in order to get even with the Mexicans, they picked up all the ponies that was loose and took “French” leave, and did stop to prospect until they put the Rocky Mountains between themselves and the Mexicans.

The first place they halted at was what is now known as the Moreno mines on Ute Creek. Here they spent the first Winter. The Mexican thinking the Plains Indians had taken their ponies did not follow far after them. These mines did not pay them very big wages and as soon as the snow went off in the next spring of 1834, the party resumed their researches. They prospected along the eastern base of the Mountains to the head of the platte. Not finding any paying prospects until they reached the Vasquez Fork (now clear Creak) of the platte where jusy below the table mountains that was the stream flowed between, on the bank of the creak that is known as Arapahoe Bar. Here they staked the bar into 100 feet front measurement running across the width of the bar. The old corner I found in the winter of 1858 marked with from 3 to 5 boulders at regular intervals of 100 feet apart and corresponded with the measurement made by Arapahoe town company that relocated the same bar in the winter of 1858 and 59.

The Estes party mined in and along the creak banks until the water raised from the melting snow. They tried the bar which did not pay with the Georgia rocker. From here the party worked their way north along the base of the mountains until they reached the “Black Hill” where the party spent the next winter (1834) and done considerable mining that paid them the largest of any mining operation that they had engaged in while out. The Indians became increasingly menacing. The miners thought prudence the better part of valor, hid their tools where they worked last, and returned to Missouri in time to settle what was known as the Platte Purchases, and spent the remainder of their days in northwest Missouri. John Sollars contracted rheumatism while on the trip from exposure that he never recovered from the effects. One of his sons accompanied the writer to this country who remembered his father talk of his wonderful adventure while on this trip and wanted to go to the Hill in case no gold was found here in 58 and 59.

The writer crossed the plains with Poe who related the hardship and adventures about as I have penned them, and being well acquainted with the Estes’ and have heard the same description to vouch for the truthfulness of the history as above given.

Memoirs of Estes Park

Joel Estes Marble Sculpture

Joel Estes Marble Sculpture




Lee Estes

Lee Estes