The Race

During the 1880's footraces were extremely popular in Colorado, especially with miners in the mountains.  These races were easy to arrange and provided a diversion for a miner's often tedious and lonely life.  It gave them a great excuse to get together to do some drinking, blow some money, visit the brothels, and generally get rowdy.  This process was no different in the Teller City, Grand Lake area.  About once a month miners from the area around Grand Lake would get together to blow off a little steam.  Each group of miners were very loyal to their particular town, be it Dutchtown, Lulu City, Tyner, Fairfax or another.  Of course the miners would brag how great their patch of land was and how the miners from their camp were the best in the entire area.  It didn't matter if all they had was a single much patched and holy tent as the only building in the entire camp or all the miners were well over a hundred years old, they had the best place.  Teller City miners were no different and in the winter of 1883 started bragging about one of their own.  They claimed they had a man fast as greased lightning, by the name of Dan Sharp from up at the Wolverine Mine, who couldn't be beaten.  Of course this boast could not go unchallenged and the people of Grand Lake stated they had a man, Ewing Montgomery from Georgetown, who could outrun a scared jackrabbit with a tailwind.  Of course the challenge was on and the Teller City miners were backing up their claim with money.  In short order about a hundred dollars in bets were made and the race was set for that summer. For the rest of the winter the two runners trained and betting continued being placed on the outcome.  By race time betting had reached thousands of dollars.  This race would have been just like so many others, lost in the mists of history, except for what happened at the finish.  This fact alone keeps it from fading away and makes for a good story.

The race was set to take place down the main street of Teller City.  The exact details about the race are not known, most likely forgotten during the telling of accounts at the end of the race.  A respected judge, Judge Pettingel, officiated the race and declared Montgomery the winner by seven feet.  The race would have been over at this point except for Sharp.  Instead of stopping at the finish line when he crossed it, he kept right on running.  In fact he ran right out of town and into the forest.  Initially no one thought much about this except for a good laugh at Sharp, who must be embarrassed losing by so much.  It soon came to light most of the winning were missing.  It was discovered Sharp somehow had these winning in his pocket.  It was also discovered a local prostitute was waiting in the forest for Sharp with a pair of horses.  The two were never seen again.  As for the miners, well... let's just say, with paying off all the bets plus the loss of the winnings, they basically were left only with the shirts on their backs.

 

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This page was last updated: Thursday, 02-Jun-2011 08:09:25 MDT

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