Pueblo County, Colorado
Hon. James N. Carlile

Contributed by Karen Mitchell.

The Hon. James N. Carlile was born in Carroll County, Ohio, October 17, 1836. His school advantages were the same as those of the majority of the district school scholars in our free American Republic until he was fourteen years old. During his school attendance, he acquired only a vague and indistinct knowledge of the text books he studied, and owes more to his inherent ability than to education for being one of the widest known railroad contractors in the United States. At the age of fourteen, he began his railroad experience by driving a cart on the Pan Handle Railroad, which has proven to be the stepping-stone to the pinnacle which he has attained. He successfully farmed in Iowa, mined two years in French Gulch, Colo, and freighted four years with wagon teams in the Territories of New Mexico, Colorado—then a Territory,—Wyoming, Idaho, Nevada and Montana. In 1868, he again began railroading, as a member of the firm of Moore & Carlile, railroad contractors and builders. They built from Cheyenne out forty miles of the Denver Pacific Railroad in ten months, and in four months built the Colorado Central Railroad between Denver and Golden; built the larger part of the Kansas Pacific Railroad from Sheridan to Denver, a distance of two hundred and thirty miles, the only important contractors besides themselves being Fields & Jones, and William Wheeler & Co. They contracted to build, and built nearly all of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad between Denver and Pueblo, and between Pueblo and Cañon City. In 1874, Messrs. Orman & Co. became members of the firm, and the title was changed to Moore, Carlile, Orman & Co., who built ninety-seven miles of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad. Mr. Moore withdrew from the firm in 1877; William Crook was admitted, and the firm name changed to Carlile, Orman & Crook. They built the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad from Pueblo to El Moro, and to Alamosa, with the exception of a few short distances, which were built by sub-contractors. They built at least one-half of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, between Canon City and Malta; and all of that road from Leadville to Kokomo—twenty miles; also built between thirty and forty miles of the Denver & South Park Railroad. In partnership with others, he has built over five hundred miles of railroad. At the time of the taking of this short biography, he was interested in a contract to build thirty miles of the San Juan extension of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad from Alamosa to Del Norte, and in a contract to build the Utah extension from Tennessee Pass to Red Cliff. He is a fancier of blooded stock, and an extensive dealer in horses and cattle. In company with his brothers, W. K. and, L. F. Carlile, he owns several herds of high-priced stock. He was sent from Pueblo County by the Democratic party, in 1876, to the first Legislature convened in Colorado after it became a State, and was elected County Treasurer of the same county in 1880. The above denotes the popularity and far-reaching financial vim of the subject of this sketch, and it only remains to add—to complete the sketch—that in his beautiful residence on the mesa at South Pueblo, he is a hospitable gentleman and a kind husband and father to an affectionate family. History of the Arkansas Valley, Colorado, O. L. Baskin & Co., Chicago, 1881

Contributed by Jean Griesan.

Hon. James N. Carlisle. The man that has bridged over space and practically annihilated time by the work of his inventive and enterprising spirit, deserves to be numbered among the benefactors of the race. 'Tis an age of progress, when vast commercial transactions, involving millions of dollars, depend upon rapid transportation. The revolution in business that the past half century, or even less, has witnessed, has been brought about by the means of the railroads, and the man who has done as much as anyone to establish these highways of travel in Colorado is James N. Carlisle, a well-known and prominent citizen of Pueblo.

He was born in Carroll County, Ohio, in October, 1836, and was reared in New Philadelphia, Tuscarawas County, Ohio, where he was educated in the common schools. At the age of fourteen years he became interested in railroading in his native state, and throughout life has been more or less identified with it. At the age of fifteen years he removed to Iowa, and in 1856 became a resident of Nebraska, when it was still a territory. In 1859, during the excitement at Pike's Peak, he came to Colorado, where he was engaged in mining for two years, and for six years followed freighting across the plains from Colorado to New Mexico, Utah and Montana. Since then hi attention has been principally devoted to railroad construction, the first road he built being the Denver Pacific from Denver to Cheyenne, when he was a member of the firm of Moore & Carlisle. Later he built the Kansas Pacific to Denver; the Colorado Central; the Denver & Rio Grande; the Oregon Short Line; the Santa Fe; and about one hundred and fifty miles of the Missouri Pacific in Nebraska. He has built more miles of railroad than any other man in the state, and has thus opened up the country to settlement. He is also extensively interested in the stock business, and owns a ranch of nearly five thousand acres near Beulah, Pueblo County, known as the Three R Ranch. In connection with two other gentlemen he laid out and made Carlisle Park what it is to-day, a beautiful park covering four hundred acres, located in the city of Pueblo. He settled at that place twenty-eight years ago, and has since been prominently identified with its upbuilding and prosperity. He built the fourth house on the mesa, was the founder of the first street railway in the city, and laid out the Carlisle addition on land which he secured from the government. This addition he has greatly improved, and among the residences he has erected there is his own beautiful home.

In June, 1869, Mr. Carlisle married Miss Maria Bennett, a niece of H. P. Bennett, of Denver. They became the parents of four children, two sons and two daughters, namely: Charles, who is connected with the First National Bank of Pueblo; Hattie, wife of Dr. G. W. Whitefield, of Chicago; Carrie, who is attending the Armour Institute in Chicago; and Bennett, at home. The father of our subject was William Carlisle, a carpenter by trade, who was born in Ohio and died in Colorado at the ripe old age of eighty-two years. He had three sons who were in the Union army during the Civil war, namely: William K., Walter and John.

Since attaining his majority Mr. Carlisle has affiliated with the Democratic party, and has taken quite an active and prominent part in political affairs. He was an honored member of the first state legislature, which convened in 1876; served as state treasurer for two years; was county treasurer of Pueblo County for four years; and has been alderman of the city of Pueblo. As a citizen he meets every requirement and manifests a commendable interest in everything that is calculated to promote the city's welfare in any line. In manner he is pleasant, genial and approachable, and all who know him esteem him highly for his genuine worth. The success of his life is due to no inherited fortune, or to any happy succession of advantageous circumstances, but to his own sturdy will, steady application, tireless industry and sterling integrity.

Extracted from "Portrait and Biographical Record of the State of Colorado," published by Chapman Publishing Company in Chicago in 1899.

Contributed by Jean Griesan.

Builder, Banker - Pueblo Superstar Main Focus of Museum Exhibit

Hats and partners - he had plenty of each.

James N. Carlile, Pueblo pioneer extraordinaire, was a freighter, railroad builder, rancher, banker, real estate developer and politician whose name was linked with those of many other prominent citizens.

A Pueblo elementary school and a nearby street are the most visible reminders of Carlile, but the land for City Park was purchased from his 400-acre Carlile Park development and he helped bring streetcars to the city. The state of Colorado can thank him for hundreds of miles of railroad as well as the first road that climbed Pikes Peak.

Carlile, whose obituary in 1921 praised him as "one of the state's best men," is profiled in a small exhibit at Southeastern Colorado Heritage Center. Anchoring the display is the rosewood grand piano that Carlile freighted from St. Joseph, Mo., to Pueblo for his wife Maria. Carlile, the story goes, brought a second piano for a miner's wife in Denver, but she grew frustrated because she couldn't play the instrument and destroyed it with an ax.

Susan Adamich, heritage center director, spent about six months collecting information about and photos of Carlile and she heard stories from his descendants.

"Every little thing that came up, he got involved in," Adamich says. "He laid track for the D&RG and for the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe. He owned the 3R Ranch near Beulah and was involved in the Bessemer Ditch. He was very fond of thoroughbred horses and had a racetrack in the Aberdeen area."

Puebloan Vergene Hunter Thomas, Carlile's granddaughter, says she wishes she'd known him but her grandfather had died by the time she was born. The daughter of Charles Carlile, Mrs. Thomas says her family didn't talk much about James.

"My dad was a quiet man. He had his own place at the end of the sun room. He'd come home from the bank - he worked at First National Bank along with Uncle Ben - and sit down with a drink and read. My dad was very scholarly and sober. I don't think Grandpa was."

One story she did hear was how her grandfather would go out to the barn, ring a bell and a pony would come out and run around the house, then go back into the barn.

The family home at 44 Carlile Place on the bluff above the Arkansas River was built in 1872 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. James and Maria Carlile raised two sons and two daughters there; a fifth child, William Scott, died at age 4.

Highlights of Carlile's life include:

He came to Colorado in 1860, mined in the South Park and Blue River areas and started a freighting business in 1862.

He met and married Maria Bennett of Denver in 1869.

Relocated in Pueblo, in 1871, Carlile joined other influential Puebloans in convincing fellow citizens to pass a bond issue to extend the Denver & Rio Grande railroad into Pueblo.

Carlile opened a livery stable, a saloon, the South Pueblo Flour Mill (along with Charles Goodnight, Peter K. Dotson and others), a store east of town and one in South Pueblo. He opened an agricultural warehouse on Union Avenue in 1878, became a director of Central National Bank (incorporated in 1881) and a director of the new Pueblo Savings Bank. He built the Moore and Carlile Opera House and along with partner William Moore conceived the Pueblo Street Railway to link Pueblo and South Pueblo with public transportation.

Carlile and two other partners platted a large area near the bluffs in which trees were planted, lakes dug and filled and streets and building lots laid out; they called it Carlile Park. The development contained the Mineral Park Race Track and Stables (near the old Woodcroft Hospital), an artesian well and bathhouse.

Carlile's interests included stock raising and, in 1893 with another partner, C.L. Dittmer, he purchased the 5,200-acre 3R Ranch near Beulah. He leased grazing lands on the ranch to the British government for horses used in the Boer War in South Africa.

He was elected to Colorado's first General Assembly in 1876 and re-elected in 1878; he served as county treasurer (elected in 1880) and as state treasurer (elected in 1890).

Carlile died in 1921, after tirelessly helping victims of the city's flood and never recovering from the exhaustion it caused him.

- Sources include "The Life and Times of James N. Carlile" by Ed Simonich, published in Pueblo Lore, January 1985.

Extracted from the Pueblo Chieftain, December 27, 2009

Contributed by Jean Griesan.

Carlisle, James N. (arrived in Colorado in 1860)

James N. Carlisle was born in Carroll County, Ohio, and came to Colorado in 1860. At the age of 14, Mr. Carlisle began working for the Panhandle R. R. as a messenger and utility boy. Early in 1860 he came to Colorado, went to the South Park mines, and remained until September. Then he went across to French Gulch in the Blue River country and there engaged in placer mining until 1862. He then entered the freighting business from shipping points on the Missouri River to Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Nevada. In 1868 the firm of Moore and Carlisle was formed for the purpose of building railroads. In 1875 Morse Orman and Co. became members of the firm and the title was changed to Moore, Carlisle, Orman and Co. Mr. Carlisle settled Pueblo in 1870, purchasing a large tract of land and in the company with his brothers, W. K. and Lew F. Carlisle, entered extensively into the business of raising blooded stock and dealing in horses. In 1876 he was elected to the first general assembly of the State and in 1880 was elected country treasurer, which office he held by successive reelections until 1886.

He was one of the original directors of the Central National Bank, organized in 1881, and he was also a director of the Pueblo Savings Bank.

Mr. Carlisle died at his home in Pueblo October 20, 1921, at the age of 85 years. He is survived by his widow, who was Miss Maria Bennett, a niece of H. P. Bennett of Denver, and four children: Charles A., assistant cashier of the First National Bank; Ben A., exchange cashier of the same institution; Mrs. C. [illegible] W. Whitefield of Chicago; and Mrs. Norbert Zink of Pueblo.

Mr. Carlisle was also State treasurer during 1892 and 1893.

Extracted from "The Real Pioneers of Colorado," by Maria Davies McGrath, published in 1934 by The Denver Museum, retyped with added notes by Jane P. Ohl, in October 2001.

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