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Gunnison History Tracker
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Crested Butte Old Town Hall
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From the News-Champion
Crested Butte Hose Co. No. 1
By Phil Kerby
Blow the whistle, boys, and get out of the way! Here comes another volunteer fire department racing from the pages of the past.
Presenting, for your edification, the Crested Butte Hose Co. No. 1, a bunch of nimble- footed 10-second men, who, around the turn of the century, never gave a fire an even break.
And what's more, this old-time crew of firefighters, chalked up a record of 35 seconds for the regulation contest run away back 42 years ago. That clipped three-fifths of a second from the mark established by the proud George B. McAulay Hose Cart Co. of Silver Cliff six years before.
Authority for that statement is C. C. Ross of Pueblo. Authority for the record time of the Silver Cliff squad is Everett Thomas of Pueblo. Gentlemen, shake hands and come out fighting, but don't hit the reporter who is just an interested spectator.
Confidentially, it hasn't come to that at all, but the oldtimers know what it was to build up the west before machines made things a lot easier, and they are proud they contributed the strength and spirit of youth on the job.
On July 4, 1901, the 11-man Crested Butte team, each member capable of running 100 yards in 10 seconds, beat the Gunnison volunteer fire boys by one second. It seems the competition was so close that second and fractions of seconds were all important.
C. C. Ross was one of the fleet runners, and his brother, C. L. Ross, a handsome, curly- haired giant weighing 250 pounds, was the lead or "spike" man. Other members were F. E. Songer, George Miller, R. W. McDonald, Frank Wilson, Harry McCormick, M. E. Smiglow, David Shields, Harry Tingley, and a hose man whose name Ross does not recall.
Dead now are C. L. Ross, Harry McCormick, M. E. Smiglow, David Shields, George Miller and Harry Tingley. Tingley was an opera singer from the East, according to C. C. Ross, "and we never did find out much about him. In later years, he sang in Denver churches."
McDonald winters in California and summers in Colorado and rents saddle horses. Wilson was town marshal at Crested Butte and now lives in retirement at Trinidad. Songer is a retired railroad conductor at Salida.
C. C. Ross has been employed many years here with building contractors.
He was born in Crested Butte, "a mighty fine little town, even if you did have to get out lots of times at night and push the snow off the roof to keep the house from buckling." Certain other buildings had to be two stories high so you could walk to them over snow many feet deep, the Pueblo man recalls with little regret. Even the clothes lines had to be strung several times higher than high for the same reason.
Miners around Crested Butte in those days during deep winter carried dynamite sticks wrapped around their legs under their trousers while going to work. That kept the dynamite from freezing.
Why did they need dynamite?
If they came to a place where they suspected a snowslide was imminent, they put a stick of dynamite on a high pole and set off a charge. The concussion was sure to jar snow that was loose, snow that might otherwise unexpectedly cause an avalanche.
Say, who was that fellow who was talking about the "good old days?"