National Geographic : 1932 Jul
COLORADO, A BARRIER THAT BECAME A GOAL BIGIORNS, OR ROCKY MOUNTAIN SHEEP, FEEDING AT OURAY STATION Deep snows and hunger drive dozens of mountain sheep from the heights above Ouray down into that mountain-rimmed town. For years the citizens have provided hay for these winter visitors. Naturally the shyest of wild creatures, these sheep do not object, while they eat, even to the noises of civilization. Immediately behind the sheep is a narrow-gauge train, of the type that has provided all southwestern Colorado with rail transportation since 1881. As I drove through the highly developed irrigated region north and west of Denver, I came, every few miles, to great factories of steel and glass, each dominated by a tall smokestack. These, I learned, are one of the fruits of irrigation. In them millions of tons of beets that grow in the surround ing fields are turned each year into hun dreds of millions of pounds of sugar. In 1930 Colorado factories produced nearly a third of all the sugar produced in the United States. This white, crystalline gold from. Colo rado's plains has been worth in excess of $50,000,000 in a single year, more than ten times the value of the yellow gold that was dug in 1931 from the mountains. All through this irrigated country of northern Colorado I came upon thriving towns-Sterling, Fort Morgan, Greeley, Fort Collins, Longmont, Loveland, and dozens of smaller ones-each surrounded by fields of verdant green. Greeley is probably the best known of these towns. It was founded in 1870 by the pioneer agricultural colony of Colo- rado, led by Nathan C. Meeker, agricul tural editor of the New York Tribune. Horace Greeley, editor of the Tribune, helped organize the colony, and his name was given to the new town. This com munity had not been planned when the great editor, through his paper, counseled the youth of the land to "go west and grow up with the country," but the widely pub lished advice undoubtedly sent many an emigrant to the Pikes Peak country. SENTINEL CRAGS GUARD THE ROCKIES I drove westward from Greeley one summer afternoon, intent on making the sudden passage from plains to mountains. This ability to leave a world of flatness behind and to plunge, on a moment's no tice, into a contrasting realm of rocks and forest-clad hills, valleys, and towering peaks, is a never-ending fascination. As I passed through Loveland and on west ward, the high Rockies loomed up more and more plainly, dominated by the small, flat top of Longs Peak, king of the north ern mountains.