Joel Anderson's Story
Joel Anderson was my Grandfather. Joel was born in Sweden on September 7, 1892. He began working at the age of 12, going to school 4 months and working 8 months a year. He went to work at a brick plant where his first job was driving a horse pulling a pit car full of clay to the mixers for the brick. Then he worked in the kiln stacking brick & tile for baking. Joel along with his elder brother Alex immigrated to America in 1912. They went to Texas and went to work on the locks & dams being built on the Trinity River. After working there for a year he came down with Malaria Fever and the doctors told him it would be a good idea for him to move to a drier climate such as Colorado which brought him to Routt County. When first coming to Steamboat Joel and Alex pitched tents in Strawberry Park and spent that summer picking berries for the commercial growers. A year or so later Alex left Routt County moving to Clear Creek County where he established some gold claims and spent the rest of his life working those claims. Joel found work in the saw mills around the county and started doing some masonry work as well. He would work any odd jobs to make ends meet. One of his odd jobs was transplanting plants for the local green house. It was here early in 1917 that Joel met Pearl Ohman as she was working part time preparing flower arrangements at the same green house. Joel was working in Mount Harris as well and I remember him telling me that he would walk up the railroad track from Mount Harris to Fairview to court Pearl. Joel and Pearl were married on July 28, 1917 at the Ohman home in Fairview. All seven of their children were born in Steamboat Springs: Edwin Joel born March 12, 1918, Ruth Violet (my mother) born May 19,1919, Harold Leroy born July 31, 1921 (died at three months old), Ronald Scott born September 18, 1922, Martha Lucille born August 1, 1925, Sharon Colleen born March 8, 1935 and Lyman Duane born September 7, 1937. Joel had met Carl Howelson late in 1916 and in 1917 the two of them became business associates. Projects that they worked on together were the Solandt Memorial Hospital in Hayden, the new Steamboat High School built in 1917, Steamboat Swimming Pool, Heart Pool in Steamboat and the Whetstones brick residence in Hayden. They were associated in business for six years. In 1924 Joel separated from Carl Howelson and started his own separate business also enrolling in the Chicago Technical College seeking a degree in “Plan Reading, Estimating and Building Superintendence” which he completed and received a degree in 1929. I have his diploma hanging above my desk in my office. Joel did concrete and masonry work in seven neighboring counties. In an interview with the Steamboat Pilot in 1942 at the age of 50 the interviewer states that if Joel wanted to take a day to visit each of the fireplaces that he had built it would take him one full year to visit them all. I remember Joel telling me that one year in the early thirties he had a couple of fireplaces to do in the Walden area and he would get up at first light and walk over Buffalo Pass to Walden on Monday morning, work the week and then leave to walk back to Steamboat around noon on Friday. All of the river cobble that he used was hand split with a hammer and chisel. His sons Ronald & Edwin worked for him and later his son in law Jack Zulevich. Jack’s son Jim is still working part time in the masonry business today in Steamboat. Grandpa Joel had some unique finishes that he originated the use of in this area – he came out with a convex mortar joint making the joint look similar to a rope and had some special tools made by a local blacksmith for the installation. He also did a lot of plaster and stucco and he came up with what he called “pebble dash” stucco which he would trowel in pea gravel to the finish stucco coat. There used to be some of it left on some houses in the Hill Street area, but I looked and the finishes have been re-done.
H.W. Gossard commissioned Joel and paid him to install the stone ticket booths and fence pillars at the Rodeo Grounds as well as at the Lithia Spring. He
molded the concrete cast caps that are on top of these pillars including a “G” for Gossard. Mr. Gossard also commissioned Joel to do the rock work & benches
at the Sulfur Spring, Iron Spring and Soda Spring. He also did all of the cobble stone retaining wall on Soda Creek where it runs through the Gossard Estate
north of the bridge at the end of 9th street. He did numerous jobs all over Steamboat, Hayden and Craig including helping build a residence for his in laws (the Ohmans) and two residences for his family– one on 8th street and one on Hill Street. He was constantly molding tables, lawn ornaments and flower planters out of concrete and was the first one in town to start dying his concrete with different colors calling it “Colorcrete”. I remember the word Colorcrete was detailed in the stucco on his garage/shop on Hill Street in large capital letters.
Joel and his sons worked together with my father W.Lloyd Pierce on many, many projects subcontracting the concrete, masonry & plaster work as my father’s business was a General Contracting Business. Joel pretty much retired by 1954 as he had been stricken with crippling arthritis and the pain he had to endure was debilitating. I had the privilege of spending almost every Sunday with Joel & Pearl
from 1958 to 1962 – Grandma Pearl and I would go to church and then Grandpa Joel and I would play Chinese Checkers for two or three hours after church. He wasn’t able to set in the pews with his arthritis, but he could set in his easy chair and beat me at Chinese Checkers. During this time is when he shared so many stories with me and they are very well cherished. Joel Anderson died on July 28, 1962 a little more than a month before his 70th birthday. Pearl Anderson died on September 10, 1994 at the age of 98.
The Gossard Concrete Ball Caps
Lithia Springs, Steamboat Springs,
Joel's Rope Style Design