A Brief History of Clark

In the early 1860‘s, a German immigrant prospector named Joseph Hahn found gold on Ute Indian lands at the foot of a bald-headed mountain in Northwest Colorado. He perished of cold and starvation in 1867, but the mountain still bears his name: Hahn’s Peak; and his discovery brought prospectors, mining camps, merchants, banks, saloons, and homesteaders to the remarkable grazing land and promise of the Elk River Valley.

With families came churches, a school, and, eventually, a community. In 1879, the town of Hahn’s Peak became the county seat for Routt County — an honor it would claim until 1912, when the courthouse was moved to Steamboat Springs.

In 1889, in a little settlement on the Elk River, 7 miles south of Hahn’s Peak, Hannah Emily Clark applied to operate a post office on her homestead, a 2-story dormered brown building that still stands beside the river, one meadow south of the general store. She named the new post office CLARK, and thus a new town was born, a waypoint between bustling Hahn’s Peak and the rapidly growing Steamboat Springs. On her application, Hannah noted that the new post office would serve a population of 75 persons.

For the next 30 years, settlers came to Clark from every part of the country. The records are rich with tales of marriages, accidents, deaths, dances, scandals, bankruptcies, success, high jinks, and heartbreak: the legacy of remarkably determined men and women and children living out their commitment to the land, to the ranching life that they had chosen, and to each member of their little community. They were tough and independent, but they recognized how much they needed each other. They were neighbors.

Live Lightly On the Land

Hallie Myhre & Christy Belton

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