Settlers came to the North Fork Valley after the Ute Indians departed from the area in September 1881. The fertile valley was surrounded by rugged mountains to the east, the majestic Grand Mesa to the north, the bleak “dobie” desert, and the meandering North Fork River.
Arriving with just enough provisions to get by, the new settlers brought fruit trees, developed their water sources, and discovered coal, and soon, the arrival of the train made the possibilities of the valley a reality. Working together, the settlers founded the main communities of Hotchkiss, Paonia, and Crawford. Today, coal is the number one industry, wineries are abundant, artists love to display their talents, and it is a great place to live.
Highlights of North Fork Valley:
• Photographs in the book are from three different historical societies and nine private collections.
• Oral histories, photo albums, glass plate photographs, newspaper research, family histories, and interviews were some of the facets used to compile the book.
• Proceeds from the sale of his book will help support the Hotchkiss-Crawford Historical Museum, which is a non-profit, volunteer-run, local museum.
• There are six chapters in the book which cover people, towns, businesses, organizations, coal towns and mines, fruit orchards, ranching and local landmarks.
Kathy Addams McKee is a fourth-generation native of the valley. After researching her ancestry, she became interested in local history and joined the Hotchkiss-Crawford Historical Society.
Claudia Sutliff King is a lifelong resident of Paonia and a member of the North Fork Historical Society. She enjoys researching and writing local history. Her father rescued glass-plate negatives of the town that were destined for the dump. Fruit, coal, agriculture, and the people will tell the valley’s story.
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