"Though the white man may take this land, it and everything on it will never make him happy and his endeavors will forever fail." ~ Ute Indian curse after being forcibly removed from the Crystal River Valley
Once upon a time, coal was king...
During the late 1800s, combustible carbon powered locomotives and fired smelters from Aspen to Pueblo. So when "Black Gold" was discovered in Colorado's central Rockies, prospectors, investors and miners saturated the Western Slope. Treaties were broken and the region's native inhabitants, the Utes, were forced to leave their homeland for reservations further removed.
Situated in a rugged ravine, Janeway was a rowdy rest-area for frontiersmen heading into the high country. Originally known as Mobley's Camp, in 1877 the settlement was renamed after its affable innkeeper, Mary Jane Francis. The charming Mary Jane was the most popular resident in this fledgling town of fifty that included a general store, post office, boarding house and saloon.
Wedged into a slender meadow where the Crystal River emerges from a narrow gorge, Janeway offered just enough space for transportation and distribution of goods. At first, serving as a stagecoach stop was sufficient for shuttling passengers to work. Later, more horsepower was required to move the luminous Yule marble being quarried out of the West Elk Mountains.
By 1900, the Crystal River Railway followed the winding watershed all the way to Redstone and Janeway was quickly transformed into a railroad station with a siding for 29 cars. The entire area was prospering with construction, corruption and cash but as prophesied by the "Ute Curse", the success was short-lived.
Around 1910, silver was dropped from the monetary standard and trains were driven by diesel motors so the market for Colorado coal crashed dramatically. During the rapid decline, many of the Crystal River Valley boom towns fell into dark oblivion. Today, all that is left of Janeway are the remains of a lonely, log cabin concealed in the eternal shadow of somber Mount Sopris.
In a greedy rush for wealth, our forefathers may have ultimately failed in their endeavor to rob the land of mineral treasure. Today, one-hundred years later, I believe we've unearthed the true value of the Colorado landscape. I believe we've come to appreciate the precious beauty of these mountains and that does make us happy.
|The Crystal River Valley|
|A rugged ravine|
|Janeway was wedged into a slender valley|
|The Crystal River|
|A lonely, log cabin|
|Somber Mount Sopris|