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Tale of an Old Building- 135 S. Walnut Street

Above: 135 S. Walnut St as it has sat for the last few decades- its fate is to be determined next month by the Hayden Town Board

Have you ever walked by the building and wondered what its story was? What events has it seen? Who has walked through its doors......Every building has a story ....Read on to find out this one's story......


The Hayden area was pre-emptively settled in 1874 as the Bear River Colony, a settlement venture organized by Porter Smart and his two sons Gordon and Albert along with Major Thompson who was a former Indian Agent. They established a post office, trading post as well as the county seat, just north of present Hayden downtown. These early settlers left the area after the Meeker incident with the Utes in September of 1879. It was not until the 1880's that permanent settlers arrived and the town developed.

Above: William Walker ca 1893

One of these early settlers was William R. Walker, a native of North Carolina, who arrived in 1881 along with his son Martin Walker who together purchased preemption land claims from William's brother in law, Samuel Reid. William Walker was an influential leader and developer of Hayden and Routt County and was elected to serve as a Routt County Commissioner from 1883 to 1885.

Along with Samuel Reid, Walker developed one of Routt County's earliest irrigation ditches- water was adjudicated to the Walker Irrigation ditch September 22, 1892 and holds the priority number of two on the Yampa River. This ditch, which winds through the Town of Hayden south to the Breeze Basin area, is one of the oldest constructed irrigation ditches in Routt County and has been in continuous use since its inception enabling agriculture development in the area.

William Walker along with his son Martin Walker, and Samuel Donelson- William's son in law, saw the need to develop plans for a town settlement for the growing area. They drew up plans for the townsite and filed a plat for the Town of Hayden on January 15th, 1894. These Town lots paralleled Walker's Lane a 'meandering cow path' William Walker used for moving his cattle to and from his pasture land located south in the Breeze Basin area and his homestead to the north near the Yampa River. Settlers had been using this path as a road through the area. Commercial lots were established on the west side of the lane which would later be called Walnut St. and business buildings started to emerge including the one at 135 S. Walnut, which would host a number of businesses throughout the years and would be associated with a number of Hayden and Routt County notable individuals including J.L. Norvell and Ferry Carpenter.

James L. Norvell

The lot at 135 S. Walnut was part of the original plat and was first purchased on Oct 1, 1895 by James 'J.L' Norvell. It was either the Walkers or J.L. Norvell that constructed the building at 135 S. Walnut sometime between 1894 when the lot was platted and 1896 when historic photographs show the building on site. J.L Norvell was one of Routt County's prolific entrepreneurs who invested in livestock and mining interests and operated a number of businesses over the years in a number of Routt County Towns aiding to their development including a stage line, saloons, and mercantile stores. Norvell originally hailed from Tennessee arriving in the Hayden area in 1892 working as a ranch hand for Samuel Reid. He built up a herd of livestock while homesteading a ranch between Hayden and Craig and delivering mail during the winter months. Norvell moved to Hayden with his wife Lizzie and purchased property including the lot at 135 S. Walnut St. where his first store was located until he built a larger structure for his growing mercantile business in what is now the HiWay Bar building on Hwy 40.

Saloon Gunfight

Above: Early Hayden ca 1898 the building with the porch on the left was the Central Hotel (torn down in the 1960's) just north (above) is the building with the awning. The school is the log building across the street on the far right. These are the only two original structures left. The school is now located behind Porcupine Design building on Walnut St.

Norvell sold the property at 135 S. Walnut in January 1897 to Joseph Jones who opened a saloon in the building. This would be the site of one of the first gunfights in Hayden between two cowboys, "Texas" John Ogg and William Sawtell. John Ogg was fatally wounded in the gunfight which was over either a game of cards or dice and William Sawtell, who was exonerated in the slaying as Ogg was part Native American, would later became a small-time outlaw. Joe Jones, who would later serve as Routt County Sheriff 1902-1906, sold the saloon to I.A. Underwood in January of 1899. I.A. Underwood ran a saloon in the building until he sold it to Hahn's Peak saloon-man, George Anderson, in October of 1900. George Anderson was running a saloon in the building when the Town of Hayden was incorporated in 1906 and it continued as a saloon until 1908 when the citizens of Hayden voted to go "dry" thereby prohibiting alcohol within Town limits. Anderson changed the business to a Hardware and Implement Store.

Yampa Valley Bank

In March of 1912 Anderson sold the building to The Yampa Valley Bank which had originated in a comer of the J.L. Norvell Store on Jefferson Ave. According to local historian Jan Leslie the reason for the Bank moving to the new location may have developed from the National Recovery Act of 1912 which reorganized banks as separate institutions. The Yampa Valley Bank played an important role in the economic stability and growth of Hayden and was backed by local businesses and individuals. However, by the 1930's the Colorado-Utah Fuel Company, which owned the Mt. Harris Coal Mine, had acquired the largest percentage of stock in the Bank and when banks across the United States went on a two-week moratorium in 1932, the Colorado Utah Company decided to close the bank permanently.

Above: Street scene with the Yampa Valley Bank- note Ferry Carpenter’s shingle ca 1912

Photo courtesy Belle Zars

Later Businesses

On September 1, 1936 the building was purchased by the Novelty Amusement Co of Denver which opened the Crystal Theatre. In order to make it a 'real' theatre they did a number of improvements to the building including sloping the floor, installing theatre seats, and stuccoing the exterior to improve its appearance. After the theatre manager passed away in 1936, his widow sold the building to Joe Cuber and John Greve who leased the building out.

Ernest Wagner, another leader of Hayden who had helped organized the Town’s cemetery, leased the building in 1938 for his saddle and furniture store. After Ernest passed away in 1940, Don Bierig established a pool hall in the building.

By 1945 William Awe opened Billy’s Recreation Center which had a lunch counter, small dance floor and a music player. This restaurant became known as the J & J Café when Jack Allen became part of the business. In 1947 the restaurant was robbed twice within a few weeks. After the second robbery, which was done by the same three men, the following ad ran in the local Routt Co Republican Newspaper:

Above: Ad from the Routt County Republican Newspaper

From the 1950’s through to the 1980's the building saw a number of businesses pass through including Jack’s Sport Shop, a stove shop, the Hayden Re-Store, a 3.2 Beer hall called Poor Richards which later became a teen center, and finally it was shared office space which housed Mark Fischer- Attorney, an Insurance Agency owned by Darrell Camiletti, Doug Monger- Public Accountant, and offices for the Yampa Valley Electric Company and Hayden Cable Company. The last business in the building was Albert Deepe’s Wood Works which operated until 1991. The building has set vacant since, except for one summer in 2007 when it was the Elkhead Quilter’s Shop.

The Annex

Above: Inside the annex on the southside of the building was Ferry Carpenters Office noted as specializing in land and water rights. Ferry sitting at his desk ca 1912

The southern annex was added sometime about 1909 when it housed a bowling alley. This small space saw the rise of one of Hayden and Routt Counties most influential individuals, Farrington "Ferry" Carpenter. Ferry was born August 10, 1886 in Evanston Illinois to Edward Farrington Carpenter a well to do shoe manufacturer and Mary Belle Reed Carpenter. Ferry's mother had brought him out west in the summer of 1902 to New Mexico in order to improve his health as he was prone to asthmatic attacks and she felt the dry southwest would help him. Ferry fell in love with the cowboy life and eventually found himself as a ranch hand for the pioneer cattleman JB Dawson who Ferry looked to as a mentor. JB Dawson was a Texas pioneer who had made his fortune running cattle and establishing a large ranch in the New Mexico frontier. Dawson purchased the Fiske Ranch just east of Hayden and a number of nearby ranches all of which would become known as the Dawson Ranch, and persuaded Ferry to visit the family and pursue ranching and a homestead. Ferry would visit the Dawson Ranch during the summers, and attend University back east in the winter. In 1907 Ferry took up a homestead in the Elk Head area north of Hayden. Ferry graduated from Princeton University in 1908 and in 1909 on his return to Hayden partnered with his best friend Jack White to form the Carpenter and White Cattle Company which raised pureblood Hereford cattle making profits by selling bulls. Ferry worked on his homestead during the summer months attending Harvard Law School in the East during the winter. In 1912 he graduated with his law degree from Harvard and returned to Hayden to set up his law practice advertising land office and water rights as his specialties. In 1912 Ferry established his law office in the annex, which had previously housed a bowling alley, here he would start his rise to become one of Hayden's most prominent and influential citizens contributing to the development of the Hayden community and we􀀟tern ranching. He rented the annex, which had a bedroom in the back where he stayed in the winter when the weather prevented him from traveling to his homestead, for $10 a month which included outhouse privileges out back. This site served as his office for the next eight years.

Ferry served as the Town of Hayden Attorney from 1913-1925 during which time he helped establish two schools, the Elkhead Rock School and the Union High School. He also helped establish the Solandt Hospital, and served on a number of local Boards including director for the First National Bank in Hayden. In 1925, Ferry leased the Dawson Ranch from the Victor American Fuel Company which had purchased the ranch in 1915 from the Dawson's. Ferry would eventually purchase the Ranch which is now part of the Nature Conservancy.

By 1928 Ferry had become a leading cattleman in Northwest Colorado and played a key role in representing livestock interests in regional and national policy. Ferry served on the Board of Directors of the Colorado Cattle and Horse Growers Association and in 1926 was instrumental in negotiating a truce between cattle and sheep factions in Moffat County during the "stock driveway crisis". He served as District Attorney from 1928 to 1932 in Routt County. In 1934 he was appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to set up the administration of the Taylor Grazing Act and serve as the first Director of the Grazing Service (predecessor to the Bureau of Land Management). During Ferry's time in that capacity he worked with local stockmen all over the West and set up the management of western range lands with a decentralized grazing administration with district advisory boards composed by lessees. He also served as Colorado State treasurer 1941-1943 and was elected State Representative serving one term in 1952.


Carpenter, Edward F. "America's First Grazier." Fort Collins: Vestige, 2004.

Carpenter, Farrington R. "Confessions of a Maverick." Denver: State Historical, 1984.

Carpenter, Willis. "Carpenter /Dawson Ranch." Historic Nomination, Routt County, 1993.

Green, Judy. "W.R. Walker Homestead Cabin." Historic Nomination, Routt County, 2003.

History of Hayden and West Routt County 1876-1989. Dallas, Texas: Curtis Media Corporation, 1990.

Leslie, Jan. "Hayden." Charleston: Arcadia, 2010.

Leslie, Jan "Walnut Street Now and Then." Hayden Heritage Center, 2009.

Routt County Property Ownership Books

Watson, Laurel. "Yampa Valley Sin Circuit." Charleston: History Press, 2014.

Wilson, Delphine Dawson. "John Barkley Dawson". 1997.

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