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Camp Shumway

by Carol Stevens

HUERFANO- Camp Shumway was located between Delcarbon and Gordon mines on Highway 69, northwest of Walsenburg. Some of the ruins are very visible, with one building still standing near Red Rock road. The mines associated with Camp Shumway were known as Rocky Mountain Mine and Consolidated Mine.  The Rocky Mountain Fuel Company, owned by Dr. C. M. McGuire, opened the mines in 1902 after veins of coal from five to 10 feet thick were found.  McGuire bought 800 acres from Ed Caddell who started development of the camp in 1904.

    In November 1905, Consolidated Coal Company leased Rocky Mountain and Consolidated mines from McGuire for $3000 per year and ten cents a ton royalty.  Consolidated mine was then leased to Cuchara Coal Company, which was organized by Fred O. Roof and William, George and James B. Dick in 1905.  Roof and Dick later incorporated the company.

    Camp Shumway news tidbits from 1905-1939, give us a window on some of the highs and lows of coal camp life.

    In July 1905, Mr. and Mrs. John Juhas received $50 from the Denver Post for having triplets at the camp.  Rocky Mountain Fuel Company gave the children of the camp free tickets to the Floto circus that was being held in Walsenburg.  The camp school was in Rocky Mountain District 17.  Enrollment was good with 53 students in 1911.

     The camp had a post office which was first named for the mine itself, then for the owner of Rocky Mountain fuel company, Dr. C. M. McGuire. The post office was located in the Pinon Supply Company store. In 1905, John Kirkpatrick had double duty being the store manager as well as the postmaster.  Rumor had it that some of the camp residents wanted the post office to be called Shumway.  On April 13, 1911, they got their wish, and the name was changed to Camp Shumway post office.  The post office stayed open until July 1, 1924.

    Despite the vitality of family life in the community, coal camp communities were temporary communities which experienced significant losses  over the years.  Amazingly only one fatality was recorded over the years for the Shumway mine– William Whiles,  the father of the mine superintendent, E.H. Whiles.  In spite of ununusally low fatalities, by 1922 enrollment in the camp school had dropped from 53 to 32 students. The mines closed soon after sometime in the 1920s.

    The structures of the camp remained after the mines closed.  The Works Progress Administration (WPA) reconditioned the old frame school into a modern building in 1939. The reconditioning also included replacing the outhouses.  In 1937, before the WPA came on the scene, a four-room house was stolen one night.

    No statistics for production were ever recorded for the mine, but the vitality of the coal camp community lives on for posterity.

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