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Colorado Trout Fishing in the 1860s

In the early 1860s Estes Park was already becoming known to the outside world as a fine place for camping, hunting and fishing. In the summer time several parties came up to the Park, but very few knew how to catch mountain trout. One man, an old acquaintance, said he could catch trout "just like he caught cat fish back east." He baited his hook with meat, put a lead sinker on his line, and set his fishing rod in the ground on the bank, near the water and tossed his hook into the stream. Then he sat down to see what the fish would do. He fished a half day and caught nothing. He found that trout would not notice anything under the water. We fished with grass-hoppers or with artificial flies, which we made; and we would change the flies, until we found the color that suited the fish, they would then bite as fast as we could pull them out. We kept the fly on top of the water and kept it moving, and the fish would jump after the fly. These fish had never been dis- turbed by fish hooks before, so it was a regular paradise for the fisherman in these days at the Park. In the winter the stream froze solid; then we cut holes in the ice, and caught a few fish that way.

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Grizzly Bear in 1860s Estes Park Colorado


A story taken from Memoirs of Estes Park, that is a collection of short stories penciled by Milton Estes, One of Joel Estes sons.

Father (Joel Estes) had built a corral in the rear of the house, the fence joining the house. There had been some sheep corralled there for some time, during the night, in order to protect them from the wolves and other wild animals; for the herders could take care of them during the day. At this time, there was a young man staying at father's house, who was ill with mountain fever. From a camp near by two boys came to sit up part of the night with the sick man; they would then go back to their camp to sleep. One night when they were leaving the house to return to their camp, they passed the corral, and a large bear jumped out of the corral, with a sheep. The boys ran back to the house and got guns. Joel Estes, Jr., joined them and they went out after Mr. Bruin. The bear had gone about eighty yards, and they all three shot at him at the same time; one of the shots struck the bear, and crippled him. He then got away in the dark. They hunted around for him, and :finally jumped him up again. All three fired, but did not succeed in bringing him down. By this time father and Marion had joined in the hunt. Father understood shooting a rifle after night, and the :first shot he took at the bear, shot him through the heart. The boys were still afraid to go up to him in the dark, for fear he might still be alive. After shooting another volley into him, they went up to him, and found that he was as big as an ox.

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(Francis Marion Estes)

One evening Marion went out to drive the milk cows into the corral and he passed by a place where a dead cow lay. He always carried a large bull whip when he went after the cows. A large mountain lion rose up within a short distance of him, and began to switch his long tail on the ground like a cat when she is going to jump on a mouse. Marion began to walk backwards and keeping his eye on the lion and swinging his big whip, cracking it, making it pop like a pistol shot. The lion followed so fast after him as to come nearly in reach of his whip, which was about twenty feet long. Finally the lion stopped, and Marion ran for the cabin, and got his hunting rifle and returned to the place he left the lion; but the lion had made good his escape into the brush or among the rocks. The lion was probably watching around the carcass of the cow to catch and kill something to eat; for a lion would not eat any- thing that had died. They like to do their own killing; however, a lion would occasionally eat a deer that a hunter had killed.

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