While visiting the Salt Ranch at 3858, US Highway 285 Park County Hartsel, Colorado 80449, we saw many buildings from the 1800s. Some of these included a private residence, now under reconstruction, a blacksmith shop library barn outlying log cabins and remnant structures from the days when salt was mined from a spring in Salt Creek.
The reason for such a visit is because Charles L. Hall, founded the place in 1860. Hall was also the owner in 1894 of some rich gold mines in Arizona, namely the Mammoth Mine, and the Black Queen. The two of his many claims and riches of them. Now, Robert Schoose and myself, own, all of those claims that were once owned by Charles Hall.
Robert Schoose also now owns Goldfield Ghost Town, which originally developed around Charles Hall’s gold mines. The recreated town, hosts many businesses such as the Mammoth Saloon.
While examining the many buildings, we were told by the decendant of Hall, that in the blacksmith shop there were names carved in the wooden wall amongst these were Jesse James and Frank James. Being a lover of Western history I wondered if there was any proof that in fact they may have passed this way, or whether either had even ever been in Colorado. What I found was astonishing.
I found an article from the Leadville Herald, which had some eye opening statements. The article will be included, but the high points are:
Jesse James in fact mined in Leadville Colorado in 1879, there is the count of Jesse James taking the train, most likely the Denver Rio Grande from Malta just a little southwest of Leadville to visit his mother in Missouri.
So from this article Jesse James was in Colorado.
In the 1879 census of Leadville, which also included the name Charles L. Hall, he is listed as the proprietor of the Mammoth Saloon (same name as the Saloon in the Goldfield Ghost Town, and the name of Halls rich mine) which is on Chestnut Street and Harrison Avenue. Was there then a tie were in Jesse James would have put his name in the blacksmith shop?
Well, let me say that both Hall and James were in Leadville at the same time. Being the owner of the Mammoth Saloon I’m sure miners frequented this establishment including Jesse James, both, more than likely, knew each other. What is the proximity of Leadville from the Salt Ranch is a very important question. They in fact are as the crow flies about 25 miles from each other, however, would it have been easy to have ridden there on horseback or even a train ride or stage coach ride? Weston Pass Road is about seven miles south of Leadville and about 30 miles by horseback to the Salt Ranch, Western Pass Road actually comes out at highway 285, 3 miles north of the Salt Ranch. Another mention is the house at the ranch was a hotel, and a stage stop.
In summary, the very fact of Jesse James’ name being inscribed at the Salt Ranch, I can say that there was the very real possibility that he had done so. Charles L Hall and Jesse James more than likely knew each other while both were in Leadville in 1879 and the close distance from Leadville to the Salt Ranch would extend a very real possibility that those inscriptions were legitimately done by one or both of the James boys.
The last question I have, could Jesse James ever have visited Charles halls mine in Arizona?!