c 2023 by Jan MacKell Collins
Portions of this article are excerpted from Lost Ghost Towns of Teller County
The engaging, high-country community of Love began as a local ranch. With the coming of a toll road and later a railroad, however, Love blossomed into a well known community and pit stop on the way to the famous Cripple Creek District. The story of Love begins in 1875 when the Cheyenne & Beaver Toll Road was established. The road ran through the ranch of John Love, a young rancher who had homesteaded roughly five and a half miles west of the settlement of Clyde a few years prior. In the 1880 census, John and Charles Love are found on their ranch raising cattle. John Love also was the son of Colorado Springs postmaster Joel F. Love, who was appointed to that position in 1888.
Although ranching was the main staple at Love, mines began appearing in the area as the gold boom in the Cripple Creek District began in 1891. Early newspapers mentioned that Winfield Scott Stratton, destined to become the district’s first millionaire, stayed or stopped at the Love Ranch on his way to the area before making his millions. That wasn’t so unusual; Love’s ranch often served as a stopover for those traveling to and from Cripple Creek, and particular mention has been made that guests often became too intoxicated at the ranch to make it all the way to their destinations.
About half a mile from the ranch, a small community of was being settled by 1892. This place was alternately known as Beaver Park since it was situated along Beaver Creek. There was already a town called Beaver Park being platted closer to the Cripple Creek District, however, and the two were sometimes confused. When a graveyard was established, it was called Beaver Creek Cemetery. Unfortunately, the exact location of Love’s cemetery has proven to be quite elusive. Various graveyard directories for Teller County have pinpointed the place as being just northwest of Pringtime Reservoir on the old Love ranch. Most of those buried there are children, including the infant son of Henry Charles and Margaret Rathke, as well as Roy Harold McCallister, an eight-year old who died after an accidental shooting. The burials took place in 1896 and 1897, respectively. Other children buried in the cemetery include Ray Rathke, two babies from the Waters family and of course members of the Love family.
As the Cripple Creek District continued developing, an increase in traffic and population merited opening a post office in December of 1894. To avoid conflicts with Beaver Park, the new post office was christened Love. As rumors began that the new Colorado Springs & Cripple Creek District Railroad was going to be laying tracks near Love, the Colorado Springs Mill opened to service smaller mines in the area.
By 1896, John Love and his family had moved to Delta on Colorado’s western slope. The move may have been a wise choice, for soon Love was subject to the lawlessness often suffered by rural towns. Early in 1898, Constable Michael Hayes of the city of Victor went to Love to serve a warrant on Charles Nichols for some unknown crime. Nichols shot the officer, who died from his wounds. The killer was sentenced to life at the state penitentiary in Canon City. Six months into his sentence he tried to escape, but was apprehended. In June of 1899, Nichols tried to escape once again. This time he was successful, and because his wife still lived at Love, authorities banked on the outlaw trying to come home. A posse soon descended upon the village. “It is said that when Nichols is met by the posse, some one will shoot,” predicted the Cripple Creek Morning Times, “and it is rumored around [Cripple Creek] Nichols will never be taken alive, unless he is taken by surprise.” The next day, the paper reported that Nichols had indeed been apprehended, but at the town of Rockvale near Canon City. He surrendered without incident, but Canon City Deputy Sheriff Thomas Tobin was accidentally shot by another officer. He was expected to live.
One other bizarre incident marred the otherwise placid life at Love. On the same day Nichols was apprehended, a group of fishermen found the body of Adolph Huffman lodged against a large rock in West Beaver creek a mile and a half below Love. A scissor and tool sharpener by trade, Huffman had been seen some weeks before “lying behind an embankment apparently asleep, with his grinding machine standing nearby in front of a house at or near Love.” Nobody, apparently, had seen him since. Coroner Dunn of Victor and two assistants were called. Unfortunately Huffman was too decomposed to transport back to Victor for burial preparation, so the men loaded the body into a coffin and buried it near the spot where it was found.
Although most members of the community were ranchers by 1899, the occasional miner continued taking up residence as well. Love was remote enough, however, that the close-nit community had few worries about their village becoming a booming metropolis like those towns in the nearby Cripple Creek District. By 1900 Love still had its post office, as well as a store and a school taught by Miss Nora Smith. The population was seventy five, although citizens were listed in the Cripple Creek District Directory under the jurisdiction of the nearest town, Altman. Residents consisted of miners and timber men, postmaster and grocer F.W. Cady, and Samuel Cashmaker of the Love Saloon.
Love began declining in 1901, as evidenced by Postmaster Cady applying for a post office at Clyde. The post office closed in 1902, and the Cripple Creek District Directory still put the population at seventy five people. Most of them were miners, cowboys and ranchers. There was also a dairy serving up eggs, butter and cream. Love’s slow decline coincided with that of the Cripple Creek District. When the Colorado Springs & Cripple Creek District Railroad ceased service past the community in 1920, most residents moved away. Today the town lies within the privately owned Beaver Park Ranch. Nothing remains of the community except the old Love school and a wonderful old barn, which are both on private property.