Pueblo County, Colorado
MARY A. CORNELIUS
Contributed by Jean Griesan.
Woman Tells of '80s Mountain Trip by Buckboard, Stage, Train - In its earlier days, The Pueblo Chieftain often published letters from readers describing experiences in travel through the mountains. An account of a journey from Saguache to Pueblo in June 1880, was written by Mary A. Cornelius, wife of a Baptist minister, Dr. S. Cornelius. When the family moved to Saguache, Mrs. Cornelius "interviewed the wonders of Veta Pass and Dump Mountain." On her return east, she opted to go through Cleora while her husband and son took their household goods by way of Alamosa. Mrs. Cornelius left Saguache in the early morning "bouncing like a jack-in-a-box over the hind wheels of one of Barlow & Sanderson's spine-racking, head-jerking exasperating buckboards." The first stop was 20 miles from Saguache. There, the new driver, "tender of women and horses," shared his easy seat with Mrs. Cornelius, by then the only passenger. The driver kept his spanking bays at a gentle trot. Another 20 miles took them to the station, where they were served a supper of bacon and eggs. It was long after sundown when they reached Poncha Springs. Then came a bumpy ride along the banks of the Little Arkansas, finally reachng Cleora, a town which had been established a few years previously by the Santa Fe Railroad. The party arrived at the Cleora Hotel at half past 10, for a short night. She received an early morning call to take the stage for South Arkansas (Salida), a mile away. She was told that food was not available at the railroad station. The traveler ordered two pancakes at the Cleora Hotel. She was hustled away before she could eat her meal, "but not before paying $1.50 for the privilege." South Arkansas, then the terminus of the Denver & Rio Grande Railway, was a bustling town made up of tents and frame buildings in all stages of construction. She also found that she could have ordered breakfast there. The train left at 8 a.m. "Most of the run to Canon City seems to be through a canyon," she related. Of the grand canyon (Royal Gorge) she wrote, "The irrepressible Arkansas is a strangely gay prisoner between those insurmountable walls." At one of the wilderness stations, a man came aboard carrying a huge bouquet of wild roses interspersed with that lovely, aristocratic flower, which bears the plebian name of soap weed. The train stopped at the soda springs at the west end of Canon City, where the passengers dashed off for a drink. "At this point the romance of my trip ended," she wrote. "It was half after one o'clock when I arrived in Pueblo." Pueblo Chieftain 6-14-1992
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