Richard Sopris was born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania in 1813.
As near as can be determined, Sopris and a party of prospectors
were the first white men to leave a printed record of having
been at the site of what is now Glenwood Springs. Those
who arrived after him found carved on an old pine tree, near the
Hot Springs, this inscription: "These springs were discovered on
July 23, 1860 by Capt. Richard Sopris and a party of
prospectors." These men had been up the Roaring Fork River
to the foot of the peak that now bears his name. This
naming was an honor bestowed upon Sopris by others in the group.
The Ute Indians that they met at a site near the present town of
Carbondale, had told them about the Yampah Springs, which lay
close to the junction of the two great rivers. The Indians
told of the hot waters, blessed by the Indians' "Great Spirit",
that were good for man and beast.
Saddle-weary Sopris felt his men needed such a blessing, so
before heading to Auraria, from whence they had come, they
followed a Ute trail down the Roaring Fork River to the springs. Sopris' party had come to the Western Slope in search of gold.
Though they never found it, their trek uncovered another
treasure in the hot waters.
He and his followers were the first white men in this part of
the country. Sopris himself was a captain in the Mexican
War, a river boat captain and captain of Company "C" of the 1st
Colorado Infantry in the Civil War.
In the fall of 1859, Sopris was elected to the legislature of
the Territory of Kansas, representing the county of Arapahoe. He was a sergeant-at-arms in the
second territorial legislature, a delegate to Colorado's first Constitutional
Convention, and served twice as Mayor of Denver.
He also served a term as sheriff and deputy sheriff of Denver
County. Starting in 1881, he served nine years as
Commissioner of the Denver Park System. The planning was
so successfully worked out that it remains the same to this day.
The Gateway to City Park was dedicated to his memory. His
wife was the former Elizabeth Allen, a direct descendent of the
famous patriot Ethan Allen. They had eight children.
Richard Sopris died April 7, 1893 and is buried in Riverside
Cemetery in Denver.
This taken from an article by Nellie Duffy in the Glenwood Post,
February 25, 1992. Nellie Duffy was a charter member of
Captain Richard Sopris Chapter, NSDAR.
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This page last
updated September 18th, 2007
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