Settlers in Grand Junction faced obstacles in building their town. Among these impediments was a lack of building materials. While the nearby Uncompahgre Plateau and the Grand Mesa might provide timber supplies, these sources were relatively distant in the days before automobiles, and before roads were built that enabled people to get from there to Grand Junction. As a consequence, many settlers and would-be shopkeepers lived and operated out of tents during the town’s earliest years, until they could construct buildings on Colorado Avenue or Main Street. These hardy souls often had to wait months for building materials to arrive from Gunnison.
Bricks were also hard to come by. While town founder George Crawford purchased a brick making machine, with the Grand Junction News promising that brick would thereafter be “plentiful and cheap,” it was not until 1883 that the press was received by Crawford.
Settlers built a few homes and businesses out of adobe, but this construction material seems to have been rare enough for the News to note that a man named Robinson was completing the first adobe business building on Colorado Avenue (December 16, 1882, page 3). Meanwhile, cities such as Santa Fe were constructed almost entirely from adobe, and one wonders if it wasn’t cultural bias that kept settlers of Grand Junction from viewing adobe as a viable option.
And of course, what kind of town building can you have if you don’t have reliable workers, or if your materials disappear before you can use them! These newspaper captions illustrate the difficulty (and humor) of settling a new Western town.
If you would like to see more of the Grand Junction News, visit our Central branch, where a staff member can direct you to the microfilm and show you how to use the reader. While you are here, peruse our Rashleigh Regional History Room and its many great local and Western history selections. You can also search our catalog for books about the history of the Grand Valley.