Eagle History

View the Town of Eagle Historical Timeline (PDF).

Earliest Days in Eagle (Castle)
In the early 1880’s, the town site of our present town of Eagle was covered with sagebrush, grass, and small bushes. Wild game of all kinds was in abundance. The upper part of Eagle County was being settled then. Gradually the people began moving down the Eagle River Valley. There was no great rush into the valley as there was apparently no riches. The people came here to farm and live, but a few prospectors drifted in hoping to find gold and silver.
The first person to live on what is now the town site of Eagle was William Edwards. Mr. Edwards surveyed and laid claim to 156 acres of land on the Eagle River at the mouth of Brush Creek. He proved up on his claim and laid out a town site which he called Castle. Castle was the name of the post office at the mouth of Brush Creek. The postmaster was C.F. Nogal.
Until 1887 the only way that people could get into Castle was by wagon road. In this year, the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad extended their line through the Eagle Valley. They built a bridge opposite Castle and also built a section house and a water tank.

The first business place in Castle, a general merchandise store in a tent, was started by Mr. C.F. Nogal in the spring of 1887. He built a new store building on the southwest corner of the first block sold by Mr. William Edwards in 1888. Mr. Nogal also built a hotel on the northwest corner of the block in 1892.
The picture on the left , taken in 1892 just after completion, is of Charles Nogal's hotel.
Soon people came from around the country to settle ranches located on Brush Creek and the Eagle River where they farmed the land and raised horses, cattle and sheep. The people thought a school was necessary for their children, so a school district was established and a school board elected. The first schoolhouse was finished in 1890.

Mrs. Jack Lemons owned the second store in Eagle. She ran the store for 2 years and then sold it to the Howe Supply Co. in 1894. It was sold again to Doll, Schliff and Leo, then 3 years later it was sold to the firm of Riley and Leo. In 1892 Mrs. Art Fulford built a hotel in Eagle. During 1894, it burned to the ground, destroying 4 thousand dollars worth of property.

Also in 1892 Mr. F. N. Bolding bought Mr. Nogal’s stock of goods from his general merchandise store. He ran the store in Mr. Nogal’s building for 2 years, and then in 1894 he built a new building where he ran his store until 1897. His son has a store in the same building today.

So far the name of Castle seemed to be the popular 1 for our present town of Eagle. The very first name that was ever mentioned for the town was “Brush”. The freighters and stage drivers called this place on their route “Eagle River Crossing.” When the railroad built its station in Eagle, they named it “Rio Aquilla”. Aquilla was the Spanish word for Eagle. Then the next story tells of Eagle as the town of McDonald. Finally, the name Eagle was established and remains so today.

In 1891 a document was made recording this statement “Town of Castle” now known as the “Town of Eagle”. The “Town of Castle” was sold for taxes ($74.58). Mr. B. Clark Wheeler, who was then the owner of the town site, redeemed the tax sale certificate and later in 1893, sold his entire holding to A.A. McDonald of Leadville.

Eagle as the “Town of Mcdonald”
In 1895 A.A. McDonald legally vacated the name “Town of Castle” and dedicated the “Town of McDonald”. It was a larger town site than our present-day Eagle. He sponsored the direct road over Castle Range to entice the people of Burns to come here instead of Wolcott. McDonald also built a large, canvas roofed hall on the present Masonic Hall site for a county grand celebration on the Fourth of July. This is the large building at the extreme left of the above picture. At the fall election of 1895, Eagle made their first try for the County Seat and failed. McDonald’s dream was short lived, for a year later the “Town of McDonald” was sold for taxes ($210.42). The name of Eagle, which had the above map copied from a map of the Town of McDonald. The town site was larger than Eagle at the present time. The red line indicates the city limit of Eagle today. The map from which the drawing was made was obtained from Mrs. Hannah Johnson. It belonged to her father, Nick Buchholz.
The picture to the left which was obtained from Mr. Houlten Chambers was probably taken shortly after the completion of the schoolhouse.

Eagle Grows in 1896-1904

In 1896 the town was called Eagle. The town site of McDonald was sold for taxes on October 5, 1896 for the amount of $210.42. In spite of the difficulty with ownership, the town continued to grow prosperously. In 1896, the first printing office was started by W. Hildreth. He named his newspaper the “Eagle County Examiner”. He ran the paper for a short time and then sold out to Mr. H. Kane. Mr. Kane ran the paper for 2 years and then sold it to Mr. E. Slaughter, who then moved it to Minturn and later moved it to Gypsum.

In 1897, the Woodmen of the World build a lodge in Eagle, and in 1898, they built a hall where they held their meetings.
In an “Eagle County Examiner” for 1899 we find this list of business places advertised:
  • Eagle Market E. M. Kniphause
  • Eagle County Examiner H. F. Kan
  • Blacksmith Peter Stein
  • Eagle Hotel Mrs. A. Lumley
  • McGuire Gleason Stage Lines Hugh McGuire
  • Eagle Sawmill J.A. Lovell
  • Doctor George P. Sampson
  • Eagle Sample Rooms (Saloon) D. C. Duncan
During 1900 the Methodist Church was built by Mr. W. Winne. Two years later the parsonage was built. Also in this year a telephone service was started between Eagle and Gypsum by Mr. J. Riley Stores Co.
1902 was perhaps the most prosperous year that Eagle had experienced thus far, seeing that several private residences and 1 hotel were built.

In 1902 the population of Eagle was 140 and there was much talk about making Eagle the County Seat.
The C. C. Parks Bank was started in 1903 by 5 men from out of town. The bank was capitalized at 5 thousand dollars and Louis Schwartz of Glenwood Springs was made cashier.

A brick building was built in Eagle in 1903. The building was built for Lumley and Baursting. It was the first brick building in Eagle and it later became the Eagle Community House. In this year the town site was sold to John Love. The site was formerly owned by Mr. Frank Doll.

In the year 1904 the Parkinson Telephone Lines were put in, making it possible to have telephone service between Eagle and Glenwood Springs. Also in 1904, a brick building was built by Harvey Dice at 225 Broadway. This building now houses the Broadway Café on the first floor and the upper part of the building is used for 2 apartments.

In March, 1905, an election was held in J.W. Gordon’s Drug Store, of voters in the proposed town limits to decide whether Eagle should be an incorporated town, resulting in a 3 to 1 vote in favor of incorporation. Papers were filed April 4, 1905, and the first town election was held on April 21, 1905. The officers elected were as follows:
  • Mayor - E.E. Glenn
  • Trustees- S.M. Playford
  • T.J. Dice
  • H.W. Goodrich
  • A. Lumley
  • A.H. Hockett
  • Peter Thoberg
  • Justice of Peace - Marshall Fulford
  • Town Clerk - C.T. Goodrich
  • Town Marshall - Joe Harris
Pictured is E.E. Glenn's General Store located on the northeast corner of Second and Broadway. The building is now home to Mountain Pedlar Bike Shop.

In 1908, Castle Mason’s Lodge, A.F. and a.m., was instituted with H.W. Goodrich as Worshipful Master.
During the time since the organization of the “C.C. Parks Bank”, it had been changed to the “Eagle Valley Bank” and in 1908 the “First National Bank of Eagle County” was organized at $25,000 and many local men became stockholders. When the officers were chosen the results were as follows:
  • President - J.H. Fesler
  • Vice President - Frank Doll
  • Cashier - Linda Schwartz
  • Assistant Cashier - Arthur Tandy
In June, 1909, a special election was held on a $25,000 bond issue for the construction of a water system. The vote was almost unanimously favorable and work was started that fall. In early summer of 1910, a 1 hundred thousand gallon tank was placed on the hill in the back of town (currently on the hill between the Terrace and Upper Kaibab Subdivisions) to supply an abundance of water for household purposes as soon as the homes could be equipped. That summer 3 street lamps were purchased and installed in the business district.

In 1910 the town purchased a block of land for a park, and Peter Thorberg gave a block for county court house purposes when needed.
In 1911 the Order of the Eastern Star was instituted with Ella Green as Worthy Matron.
In an Eagle Valley Enterprise of August 11, 1911, edited by G.T. Haubrich we find these business places advertised:
  • The Eagle Club
  • Painting & Paper Hanging
  • Hotel Montgomery
  • The Broadway Bar
  • Eagle Livery and Feed Sale Stable
  • H.W. Averill Doctor
  • O.W. Randall Dentist
  • Willey’s Drug Store
  • First National Bank
  • W.K. Cesner and Company
  • Rocky Mountain Stores Co.
  • E.E. Glenn & Co.
  • Dickinson & Owings
  • Eagle Cash Bakery and Grocery
  • Silver Eagle Barber Shop
The officers of Eagle in 1911 were Tom Dice, Mayor; L. R. Thomas, clerk; R.P. Wood, Charles McEllen, E. E. Glenn, Abe Lumley, Peter Stein, and George S. Wilkinson, trustees. In 1912 a franchise was granted to Casper Schurr to construct and operate an electric light system and by fall, kerosene lamps had been put aside, though they were frequently brought out for an emergency. Also in 1912, another attempt at the County Seat was again voted upon and Eagle lost.

In the spring of 1913 the Lady Bell Mine was discovered about 8 miles south of Eagle. The town of Elkhorn was laid out and some construction was done. This discovery brought another temporary boom to Eagle. Of the many hundreds of people who went to Elkhorn during the boom, only a few remained to establish homes. Although a little ore was taken out, the mine has remained abandoned for numerous years.

In May 1913, the voters petitioned the Town Council to construct a sewer system, after much debate and having estimates made, the contract was awarded to H.B. Ikeler for 11 thousand dollars. A year later the system was accepted to be paid for over a period of years by lot assessments.

In 1914, District No. 4 voted a $19,300 bond issue for a new 2 story school building on a block of land purchased from H. Dice. That fall the high school was started with 10 pupils, and Mr. J. P. Adams was the teacher. The old building was so crowded that the last half of the year the high school was held in an old harness shop, the building now occupied by the Electric Light Company.

In the fall of 1915 the lower floor of the new school building was ready for occupancy. The full high school course was not given until 1917 and the first class graduated in 1921.

In 1921 the District voted a $5,000 bond issue to complete the school building. The lower floor was used for the grade school, which had 97 pupils and 3 teachers. The upper floor consisted of an auditorium and rooms for the high school pupils which numbered 34 with 2 teachers.

In the year 1916 the Catholic Church bought the old school house and remodeled it for their church home.

In the fall of 1920 the removal of the county seat was again voted on and Eagle finally obtained a substantial majority

Eagle as the County Seat of Eagle County

As early as 1895, the town of Eagle aspired to be the county seat of Eagle County. At an election in the fall of 1895, it was voted to move the county seat from Red Cliff to Eagle, but Eagle lost. For 4 years, a dispute over the election was carried on. In 1899, word came from the Colorado Supreme Court that the election of 1895 had been illegal. In 1895, there existed a rule that only taxpayers could vote, but when word came from the Supreme Court of Colorado, not only taxpayers but people at least twenty-1 years old could vote, therefore the election had been illegal.

Eagle was not easily subdued and in 1904, another election was held, but Eagle lost again, 23 more votes were needed for a 2-thirds majority. Eagle tried again in 1912 for the county seat, but again lost because they didn’t have a 2-thirds majority. You certainly couldn’t call them, “quitters,” because they ran again in 1920 for the county seat and won! Red Cliff got 414 votes to Eagle’s 1985 votes

The first courthouse in Eagle was in Woodman’s Hall. The Bindley Barber building also held offices of the county. The first county officers in Eagle were Andrew Olson, C.L. Horton, George Rowland, Thomes, CL Eartmen, George Bowland, L Thomes, C. Hekkly, AF Carlson-treasurer. Fuller, Ollie, Luby, Tague, Ackley, Reeves-Constable, Harrison, Loe.

In 1923, the town council voted a fund of $297.50 to purchase fire equipment and a voluntary fire company was formed. There was no genuine need for it until 1931, when the Nogal Building burned down, which housed the “Eagle Valley Enterprise”.
On July 5, 1927, Eagle was first lit by the Eagle River Electric Company.

In 1929 a water tank holding 200,000 gallons was built up Brush Creek near the Alex MacDonnell Ranch, and in 1930 the town water rights were obtained.

In 1932, the courthouse was built and the following February 1933, just fifty years after the forming of the county, the county offices were moved into their own home.

Block 28 of Eagle was transferred to the County of Eagle for the amount of $1. Peter Thoberg had deeded this block to the town in 1910 for the purpose of building a courthouse if Eagle became the county seat.

In 1933, a franchise granted the Eagle Valley Electric Company permission to furnish the electric power for a period of 25 years.

The new Eagle County courthouse was a tan brick building 3 stories tall, with 15 rooms including an up-to-date courtroom. The first people to occupy it were: Commissioners, H.A. Nottingham, A. M. Sloss, Wayne T. Jones; County Attorney, Hume Wite; District Attorney, William Meehan; County Judge, Mable Ethel; District Judge, William Luby; County Clerk, Mrs. Mae Cox; Treasurer, Forest Cave; Assessor, George Watson; Surveyor, M.H. Leo; Sheriff, Murray Wilson; Coroner, Hugh Young; and Superintendent of Schools, Mrs. Georgia Clark.

Eagle From 1934-1940

In 1934 Eagle had a population of about 341 people and was still growing, as it was a very flourishing town. In 1934, on June first, trains started running over the Dotsero Cutoff for transcontinental journeys from Denver to San Francisco. In the same year on February 9th, Eagle and Gypsum were thinking about building an airport. They wanted the Public Works Administration (PWA) to help with it. On March 9, 1934 the County Board put new seats in the courtroom. On August 1, 1934 the new Highway No. 40 opened for travel.

In the year 1935 on July 15th, the oiling of the new highway 40 not 24, was started. On November 1st, 1935, the Beatrice Creamery Station was opened in Eagle where Mr. George Grant was manager. G.D. Roberts takes manages it currently.

On May 14, 1937 there was a chance of finding petroleum slightly east of Eagle. The Western Geophysical Company sent trucks and men to see if they could find petroleum and several tests were made, but not much was found. On May 28, 1937, the Rio Grande Motorway Passenger Bus started through Eagle on Highway 24. On June 4, 1937 the Eagle Community got a new fire truck costing $2,600 with modern, ample equipment. On October 1, 1937, the Highway Patrol started patrolling Highway 24 through Eagle County.

On December 16, 1938 an outdoor sports club was organized for winter sports for men, women and children. The adult member’s card cost a dollar and the children’s membership card 1 dime. The club sponsored the building of a skating rink in the town and ski course south of Eagle.
On May 5, 1939, a flying field on Cooley Mesa was proposed. The owners of the mesa willingly loaned the land for this purpose. The field was improved by citizens of Eagle making a 1 half mile runway.
A contract had been agreed to for the building starting in April 1940 of a gymnasium in Eagle. Eagle’s new theater building was nearing completion and a gala opening of the theater was on Saturday March 23, 1940. This new building added much to the appearance of Eagle, for the reason that it will not only have the theater but office rooms and apartments as well.

Eagle in 1940

By 1940, Eagle had both bus and train service available, municipally owned water works on pure mountain water, modern sewer system, an up-to-date light and power company, an efficient fire department, accommodating telephone system, and many other conveniences of a modern day city.
The official census taken by the Eagle Young League counted the population in March of 1940 to be 543 citizens.
The officials of the town of Eagle were: Mayor, Ralph Belding; Town Clerk, May Dale Thomis; Councilmen were Andrew Christenson, H.R. Berger, Melvin Eaton, Joe Harriss, and Alvin Rule

Pioneers of Eagle

William Edwards
William Edwards is known in Eagle history as the first man to have lived on the present town site of Eagle. He was born in Cincinnati, OH, where his father was a college professor. William Edwards obtained a college degree in law but never practiced.
He came to Colorado in his early adult years locating first at Fairplay and later at Eagle. He was a stock raiser and rancher and his first ranch in Eagle County consisted of 1 hundred and fifty 6 acres of land on the Eagle River at the mouth of Brush Creek.
He laid out a town site, consisting of 4 blocks. He first named the town Brush but soon changed it to Castle since that was the name of the post office located at the mouth of Brush Creek. He built a house, a dug-out covered with rafters, on the town site close to the railroad water tank. The rafters were covered with sage brush and mud. He built several houses that are still being used by the citizens of Eagle today.
In 1891 Mr. Edwards sold 1 hundred and twenty acres of his land, including the town site of Eagle to Mr. B. Clark Wheeler. Mr. Edwards died in the Hopkins Hospital in Glenwood Springs in 1935

Alex A. McDonald

Alex A. McDonald was an important figure for a short time is Eagle History. He came to Eagle from Leadville. N November 25, 1893, he brought with him the entire town site of Eagle from B. Clark Hardesty café. He built a large hall to hold the crowd for the dedication programs. He dedicated the Town of Eagle as the town of McDonald. This was a grand county celebration held on July 4th 1895. He planned a larger town then Eagle is today. The town of McDonald tried to become the count seat that fall, but failed.
Mr. McDonald sponsored the making of a road over Castle range into Burns. It followed the creek out of Eagle over the mountains north of town. This was to encourage the people of Burns to come to Eagle instead of Wolcott.
Mr. McDonald’s dream was short lived. A year later the town site was sold for taxes. The amount being $210.42. The name of McDonald was soon forgotten. However today it appears on legal records and documents with the name of Eagle.

Nicholas Buchholz

No 1 can write the early history of Eagle County without devoting some time and space to the life and work of Nicholas Buchholz. He was born in Kappel on the Rhine, Baden, Germany, February 11, 1835. As a young man, he came to America, landing in New York City where he remained for 2 years. He returned to Germany, some time later and was employed as a sailor for a period of 4 years. When the Civil War broke out, he enlisted in the army and in 1861 joined General Hayes brigade, the 11th Louisianan tigers, at New Orleans. In a battle at or near Winchester, Virginia, Mr. Buchholz received 2 bullet wounds, 1 in the chest and the other in the thigh which disabled him from service at the time. After his relief from the hospital, be became a private in Company A, General Mosoy’s 43rd battalion, VA Calvary, and was with him until the surrender.

Shortly after the war was over, Mr. Buchholz married Mary Joe Adams in Virginia. They went to Washington City and made their home there. Mr. Buchholz took up the butcher business as a proposition. Here he made a fortune and then lost it through unfortunate speculation.In 1874 Mr. Buchholz moved to Quincy, Illinois and made a new start in the meat business. He lived there for 5 years and in the spring of 1879, he was attracted to Leadville where he spent a short time prospecting, later taking up the work of burning charcoal on Tennessee Pass.

In 1882, before the railroad extended this far west, Mr. Buchholz, along with his family, came to the Eagle River Valley and took up the ranch which now forms a portion of the Lloyd Ranch. He sold this ranch to Z.T. Hollinsworth and then took up a claim on what is now known as Buchholz Mesa, northeast east of Eagle, making this place his home until 1904 when his wife died. In 1890 he managed a butcher shop at Red Cliff, supplying the railroad crews with meat while the road was being converted from narrow to a broad gauge.

Mr. Buchholz served Eagle County as assessor continuously for twenty 4 years where his work was of the highest order in a time that took wit, courage, and perseverance. He possessed these characteristics in a high degree. A great deal of credit can be given to Mr. Buchholz for the building of the first schoolhouse in Eagle. He was one of the picturesque characters in the history of this county.
Mr. Buchholz died in the Red Cross Hospital in Salida on August 5, 1911.
Historical Photos
For additional information please view historical photos of Eagle Colorado.