The Rockvale in 1906
July 4, 1906
The Ex Parte Newspaper reported that nearly 500 people from Rockvale and surrounding area enjoyed the day with a baseball game between the hometown team and Coal Creek. There was a ball game, a horse race, a burro race, an old man’s race, an egg race, a three legged race, a potato race, and a 100 yard dash. During the expedition of a fire drill each fire team had to run 300 feet, lay 250 feet of fire hose, hook onto a fire plug, and run water through a nozzle. The article described the teams as “harnessed, crouched and waiting for the signal.” Coal Creek won with 27 seconds and Rockvale time was 32.6 seconds. Judges were Tom Shields for Coal Creek, Ex-Mayor Kite, Rockvale and Frank Moore, Florence.
The Rockvale Town Hall was commonly referred to as the Opera House. It was the center of all social life and community activities.
Rockvale became a town in 1886
At first, the settlement consisted of tents and hurriedly built shacks. However, when people became aware of the employment in the coa1 mine, both single men and families arrived. Duplex type houses built to accommodate the newcomers when the Colorado Fuel & Iron Corporation acquired the property. Also in 1881 James A. Garfield became the 20th president of the United States. Twenty-six years later, in February of 1907 electricians began work of wiring the camp with electricity. Fourteen 32-candle power lamps were placed on different corners of the main part of the town.
Rockvale was never a “closed camp.” and many miners built their own houses and independent business houses were soon in operation. There soon was a thriving community with B. F. Rockefeller and Geo Baker’s Emporium, Colonel May’s drug store (which housed the post office), a barbershop, and four saloons composing the beginning of a main street.
On July 10, 1882, Wm. H. May and W. D. Thatcher filed with the Fremont County Clerk & Recorder for incorporation. Rockvale became an incorporated town in 1886. Thatcher was the secretary of the Canon City Coal Company. George A. Baker was mayor in 1888. Grover Cleveland–a Democrat–was the U. S. president from March 1885-March 1889.
Henry John and John P. Thomas worked in the Rockvale mine when the Santa Fe Railroad operated it. After the Colorado Fuel & Iron Corporation acquired the mine, John P. Thomas became mine superintendent and Henry (Harry) John was fire boss. Later Harry John (father of Mrs. Joe Lynn) became the superintendent. E. B. Cribbs was superintendent until the Rockvale Mine closed in 1927, and Cribbs acquired the Nu Shaft Mine.
Rockvale was the largest of the Fremont County mines, employing an average of 300 men, producing 1200 tons a day, which required the Santa Fe Railroad to pull two trainloads a day.