Tyke Pierce Construction
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Railroad Workers 1909

Train People

Traveling by Train in the Rocky Mountains

Moffat Tunnel at the Great Divide

Albert Ohman's Story

      Our family's story in Northwest Colorado begins with my Great-Grand parents, Albert John Ohman and Ida Amelia Scott Ohman. Albert was born in Sweden on January 12,1866. He immigrated to America at the age of 16 arriving in New York in 1882. From there he made his way to Minnesota finding work as a stone mason. Ida was born in Saint Paul Minnesota May 14th,1871. While staying with her sister and brother in-law Ida met Albert in 1894, and they where married on October 26th, 1895. All three of their children where born in Saint Paul: Pearl Violet (who was my grandmother) born July 31st,1896, Russell Clarence born November 20th, 1898, and Myrtle Irene born January 12th,1900. 

     In 1901, Albert along with his brother Ed began taking jobs helping to build the railroads. Ida had since been diagnosed with Tuberculosis, her doctor recommended she move to a higher and drier climate similar to Colorado's. So westward they went, first stopping in Iowa where home was two tents pitched out in the orchard for several months. As a "railroad family" tent living was regular fare with Albert moving west to keep up with the boom in new rail lines. In 1903, Albert signed a contract with the Denver & Salt Lake railroad company to head a powder-dynamite-crew. He ran a total of three crews of men blasting cuts through the granite outcroppings of the Rocky Mountains as the Denver & Salt Lake rail headed west. Denver was home for the Ohman family for approximately one year. They left the capital of Colorado by train, crossing the Corona Pass with it's lariat run up the Continental Divide, as David H. Moffat's Denver & Salt Lake rails continued to move westward with the hopeful goal of reaching Salt Lake City and connecting to the golden coast of California. The next temporary home for the Ohmans was in Rollins, Colorado. The whole family including uncle Ed living in a small cabin behind the cooks shack. Albert and Ed spent most nights camping out with the blasting crews. These crews would work well in advance of the railhead, blasting out a path for the rail bed.

     Russell recalled his father telling that his men were not at all the high society type and they preferred a brawl to a tea party any day. When his crew would set up to camp for the night, it was Albert's habit to take his bunk and bedroll some distance away from the others. He said he would much rather take his chances with the wildlife than with the men. Albert was a big raw boned man, who could maintain peace among the railroad roustabouts with the help of an ax handle if necessary.

     After spending the summer at Rollins, the family returned to Denver for the winter and for schooling for the children. With spring they again boarded the work train for the trip over the Corona Pass, past the Yankee Doodle Lake and through the wooden snow sheds which protected the train from avalanches as it traversed the east slope of the great divide above the timberline. The forward point of the Denver and Salt Lake City rail became the cow town of Kremmling, Colorado, and from Kremmling the Ohmans traveled by four horse stage coach over Gore Pass. There were several stops, with fresh teams of horses waiting at each station in the journey across the Buttes and up the Gore Pass. After taking the winding trail down Gore's west slope, the coach moved across the high meadow to the Penny Ranch which is now the town of Yampa, Colorado. Just one night was spent at the ranch, the next morning the journey continued on to Huggins. Here Albert, who was working several more miles to the west, met up with his family with a buggy and mule drawn wagon. Bumping along the wagon trails and fording the streams, Pearl remembered, they would stop to let the kids and the family dog run and stretch. They settled down in Oak Creek, Colorado, a brawling deep-shaft coal mining town, where they lived in a "railroader's cottage" (a house with walls of wood planking and a canvas top). The children were enrolled in school and this would be their home for the next two years.

     Pearl recalls that her father would keep 15-20 yellow sticks of dynamite in the coal stove's warming oven to dry them out for the next work day! Albert also kept kegs of powder inside of the tent home to protect them from the elements. Pearl also recalled that Ida was not happy about this and raised Cain with Albert telling him he was going to blow them all up! However the dynamite always stayed in the oven so it would be dry in the morning.

     As the Denver & Salt Lake City rails were tamped down from the high passes and through the canyon into the Pleasant Valley the Ohmans moved once again. The families new home was Keystone, Colorado a small rail and coal town west of Oak Creek. Here home consisted of two tents with board sides: one was the kitchen where Ida did all the cooking and baking and the other was a bedroom which had one bed for the parents and another for the three children. Ida had plenty of mouths to feed with Albert running three crews of men, pearl recalls how the men would always show up at the kitchen tent for Ida's coffee and rolls. The small pot belly stove they had was often insufficient so it was not odd to wake up with a heavy frost on top of the bedding. Pearl often told me, that if anyone had hardships her mother really did.

     When it came time to move again the Ohman family loaded up two wagons with all of their belongings and set out for Steamboat Springs, arriving there on October 7th, 1907. It would still be more than a year before the first locomotives would whistle into town and nearly five years before there would be regular train service. The children had missed a month of school and were quickly enrolled, with Pearl in grade five, Russell joining the fourth graders and little Myrtle in the second grade. Unfortunately, the Ohman's were met with great disappointment when they arrived in Steamboat. Albert had rented them a house paying three months in advance, but because of a housing shortage, they found the house was occupied by squatters that refused to budge. Luckily, the Harwig family came to their aid offering them hospitality while they looked for other living arrangements. They found one in the Fairview addition on the hillside overlooking the town of Steamboat Springs. It had a good soft well and a barn and an outhouse. 

But, this house had previously been employed as Steamboats pest house, where as it had been used to quarantine ill people with such contagious diseases as small pox and scarlet fever. Pearl said the neighbors warned them against renting the house, but they fumigated it and moved in the very next day. This became the Ohman's permanent home.       

    The first Denver and Salt Lake City train pulled into Steamboat Spring Colorado on December 13th, 1908, but the line was still being completed and the service was irregular. In 1912 after much fanfare the railroad began regular passenger and freight service with the inaugural runs being greeted by hundreds of valley residents and the ringing of church bells.Bottles popped in Brooklyn and the celebration lasted for days. 1912 also marked the approaching end to Albert’s career as a railroader and Moffat’s dream of a line to the West Coast as his finances dwindled. In 1913 under new management the D&SL extended to Craig and there it stopped. The two main reasons that Albert stopped his career as a railroader were 1.) Ida was weary of tent living and work gangs and felt it was no way to raise a family so she told him the family was staying in Steamboat Springs. 2.) The times were changing Albert had used hand drills to cut the channels for his powder that opened the road bed for the railroad. By 1913, steam powered drills were being used with large horse drawn machines. It would have demanded a large investment to continue so Albert stepped aside although he was to continue his dangerous blasting work on projects in the county for several years to come. Albert worked completing a number of construction contracts in the valley. In 1909 he did the contract for the excavation of the 175 foot long open air bathing pool for Steamboat. In 1910 he completed the contract to blast out a new shaft for the juniper mine north of Oak Creek. In 1916 he completed the contract for widening the highway between Bear River and Mount Harris. In 1917 he completed the contract for the excavation of the new Steamboat High School.
         In 1922 he completed the contract for building 1.5 miles of the Steamboat Brookston road. He contracted several of the blasting jobs for building the road over Rabbit Ears Pass. He also worked at the stone quarry on Emerald Mountain which was south of town, blasting out huge chunks of sandstone. Then the stones were cut into slabs and transported by four horse drawn sledges down into the valley where they were used to build the Episcopal Church and several of Lincoln Avenue's finest buildings. He also worked for several years in the construction business with his son in law Joel Anderson. Albert died on August 8, 1938 at the age of 72 and Ida died November 15, 1960 at the age of 89.



the coach moved across the high meadow to the Penny Ranch which is now the town of Yampa, Colorado. Just one night was spent at the ranch, the next morning the journey continued on to Huggins. Here Albert, who was working several more mile to the west, met up with his family with a buggy and mule drawn wagon. Bumping along the wagon trails and fording the streams, Pearl remembered, they would stop to let the kids and the family dog run and stretch. They settled down Oak Creek, Colorado, a brawling deep-shaft coal mining town, where they lived in a "railroader's cottage" (a house with walls of wood planking and a canvas top). The children were enrolled in school and this would be their home for the next two years.

     Pearl recalls that her father would keep 15-20 yellow sticks of dynamite into he coal stove's warming oven to dry them out for the next work day! Albert also kept kegs of powder inside of the tent home to protect them from the elements. Pearl also recalled that Ida was not happy about this and raised Cain with Albert telling him he was going to blow them all up! However the dynamite always stayed in the oven so it would be dry in the morning.

     As the Denver & Salt Lake City rails were tamped down from the high passes and thru the canyon into the Pleasant Valley the Ohman's moved once again. The families new home was Keystone, Colorado a small rail and coal town west of Oak Creek. Here home consisted of two tents with board sides: one was the kitchen where Ida did all the cooking and baking and the other was a bedroom which had one bed for the parents and another for the three children. Ida had plenty of mouths to feed with Albert running three crews of men, pearl recalls how the men would always show up at the kitchen tent for Ida's coffee and rolls. The small pot belly stove they had was often insufficient so it was not odd to wake up with a heavy frost on top of the bedding. Pearl often told me, that if anyone had hardships her mother really did.

     When it came time to move again the Ohman family loaded up two wagon with all of their belongings and set out for Steamboat Springs, arriving there on October 7th, 1907. It would still be more than a year before the first locomotives would whistle into town and nearly five years before there would be regular train service. The children had missed a month of school and where quickly enrolled, with Pearl in grade five, Russell joining the fourth graders and little Myrtle in the second grade. Unfortunately, the Ohman's were met with great disappointment when they arrived in Steamboat. Albert had rented them a house paying three months in advance, but because of a housing shortage, they found the house was occupied by squatters that refused to budge. Luckily, the Harwig family came to their aid offering them hospitality while they looked for other living arrangements. They found one in the Fairview addition on the hillside overlooking the town of Steamboat Springs. It had a good soft well and a barn and a outhouse.

Heart Spring, Steamboat Springs, Colorado

The Ohman Family  Enjoying a Picnic


She'll Be Coming Around the Mountain When She Comes!


Gore Canyon Riverbed


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