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A Brief History of Lake City:
The Mining Era, 1874-1904

Settlement & Town Building:  Platting Lake City

Lake City was platted in fall 1874 during construction of the Saguache & San Juan Wagon Toll Road from Saguache to Baker's Park (Silverton).

Road builders Enos T. Hotchkiss and J. D. Bartholf had already erected two log huts at the confluence of the Lake Fork River and Henson Creek.  Town developers chose this location for the townsite because of its flat terrain, abundant water, and proximity to the new Saguache & San Juan wagon road, a major route into the San Juan region.

The Lake City Town Company incorporated in July 1875 to promote and sell town lots.  The company had 22 directors including president Henry Finley, treasurer F. Newton Bogue, and trustees Isaac Gotthelf, Enos Hotchkiss, Otto Mears, William T. Ring, and Harry M. Woods.

Envisioning the town as the "Metropolis of San Juan," these investors purchased hundreds of lots expecting land values to escalate once mining, transportation, and commerce boomed.*

The broad valley provided a park-like setting maximized by the optimistic town developers.  They laid out a 260-acre townsite that occupied the entire valley floor - 72 blocks of 32 uniform city lots, 25' x 125' in size.

To promote the speculative town, Otto Mears subsidized The Silver World newspaper.  Harry Woods and Clark L. Peyton published the first issue on June 19, 1875 and delivered it on horseback to Saguache.**  It was the first newspaper published on the Western Slope. 

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*  Tax payment records from 1880 - 1930 reveal that Otto Mears owned hundreds of undeveloped lots throughout the townsite until his death in 1931

**   "Lake City - Its Early History,"
The Silver World, November 18, 1876, 3.
 Town of Lake City, PO Box 544, Lake City, CO  81235.  970-944-2333.  
Otto Mears, Pathfinder of the San Juans.  Mears was a skilled businessman and visionary, and one of the founders of Lake City.  His influence in building the transportation infrastructure of the region is still felt to this day.  Many, if not most, of the roads and byways in the San Juan Mountains were blazed by this man.

Road builders Enos Hotchkiss and J.D. Bartholf were working for Mears' toll road building business when they built the first pioneer cabins at Lake City.

Mears was in Saguache when Alferd Packer arrived there in the winter of 1874, and testified at Packer's trial in Lake City in 1883.

Mears also funded Lake City's first newspaper, the Silver World, which was the first newspaper published on the western slope of Colorado.

More about Otto Mears:

Otto Mears at Ghost Depot

Otto Mears on Wikipedia

Otto Mears in Silverton Magazine