Dr. Shepard Goes West, 1901

Dr. J. E. Shepard and Bill Hitchcock visited the Rockies in 1901. Here is Dr. Shepard’s account, as published in the September 20, 1901 Skidmore Standard, page 2:

Dr. J. E. Shepard Writes of His Trip in the West.

Dalta, Colo., Sept. 12, ’01.
Dear Standard:

I say dear Standard because I count editors and publishers among my best friends.


So we are here (Bill Hitchcock and myself) on the Pacific slope of the majestic Rockies. The crossing of the great divide has been too often and too well described for me to require your space here. Suffice it that we reached Grand Junction at midnight the second night from home and here at noon next day. Our hearts were gladdened at once by sight of (Little Dave) Hitchcock waiting with one glad hand to welcome us, with the other fastened to the reins of the omnipresent broncho, with cowboy saddle and a Winchester strapped about him. It will be good news to the “old folks at home” and many others to learn that he has put aside drinking and gambling, is saving his money and is as fine and manly a fellow as can be found.


I had not wandered far when I ran into the arms of my old friend Hogrefe who is conducting a store at Cedar Edge, 16 miles “up the trail” on a stage line and whom I shall visit ere I return to Missouri.


This little city of Delta lies between the Gunnison river with all its historic lore; and upon the other side the river Dolores — a name given to the street, in the city of Jerusalem, upon which Jesus walked to the scene of his crucifixion. The name means “grief” or “sorrowful” and was given to the little, pushing gladsome river because nearly 50 years ago there was enacted upon its bannks one of those nameless tragedies of women and children after the life of their last defender had flown in unison to the war cry of the triumphant Cheyenne. Later, if deemed expedient, I will put into your hands some data I have been collecting on the scene of this horror; the story of which has not yet been fully written.


Alkali is the dominating factor of this region. Nothing green except where the irrigation ditch is found.


Tomorrow morning, Bill and myself fully equipped with Bronchos, Winchesters, pack mules and camping outfit, with Little Dave for guide, take “the trail” up the mountain to the southwest for a deer hunting trip. Please don’t laugh at this for there will be a man or two in our company who always kill deer, so they have generously promised that all killed shall be to the credit of the party, so we expect to register each night “we killed 2 or 3 deer to-day.”


Our postoffice will remain Delta, but there is no rural delivery back in the west 50 or 100 miles.

Regards to all friends,
J. E. Shepard.