Pearl Lake State Park
|Updated September 16, 2009
Introductory History of Pearl Lake State Park
The History of Pearl Lake State Park, Colorado goes back to the history of my grandparents own
arrival in SW Wyoming and NW Colorado in the late 1800's and early 1900's. This page is the first
of many I plan to write about this colorful era of western history. In addition to reading this page - I
invite readers to check out our photo album with pages of historical photos taken in the Rawlins,
Wyoming and Hahn's Peak, Colorado region. Also consider a visit to our links page and the pages
about the Hartt family tree. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the show . . .
It is hard to imagine what the frontier life would have been like for my grandparents. Both my
grandparents came west from New England/Canada. My grandfather, John Kelly Hartt, came to
Wyoming in 1894. He was born in Bangor, Maine in 1870 and moved to Canada when he was 14.
His father and grandfather were both Free Baptist ministers in that region (at the South Canaan,
Raynardton and other churches). In addition to living in those places, granddad lived in
Albuquerque, NM and Elizabeth, CO.
John K. Hartt started his career in the sheep industry as a ranch hand for several outfits. I have
heard he worked for the King Brothers Sheep Company in Laramie. He also spent time working as
a horse wrangler for Ora Haley. He owned his first sheep in partnership with a Mr Revest, a
Frenchman. He also partnered with the Cosgriff Brothers early in his career. In 1901 he invested
in the Pioneer Sheep Company, where he eventually became Vice President. In 1903, Pioneer
merged with the Cow Creek Sheep Company, his partnership with the Cosgriffs. In time he bought
out their holdings in the Savery-Battle Creek District. He went on to become the President of Cow
Creek Sheep Company and another Company called Yellowstone Sheep Company. This is only
the begining of the story of a very successful man who got off the train in Rawlins, Wyo. because he
was out of money to go further. More of this history will come to life on this page in the weeks and
months to come.
By the summer of 1903, John K. Hartt was summering the sheep in both CO and Wyoming and
was involved in the range wars. There are accounts in the local history books that say my
grandfather was dealing with adversaries like Tom Horn during this time. Some accounts tell of
him being "driven back into Wyoming" from the cool Colorado summer pastureland by the
cattlemen. During these years, his official summer headquarters was in Baggs, Wyoming, just 2
miles north of the CO/Wyo. border.
By 1911, the range wars had calmed down enough that he was able to establish a summer
headquarters in the Hahn's Peak Basin in CO. The first summers, my mom and her family stayed
in "the little green house" in Hahn's Peak Village. The next 4-5 summers, they spent in the old
Ranger Station, which is now under the waters of Steamboat Lake. There were 6 daughters born
to John Kelly and Minnie Pearl Hartt - Pearl, Marie, Marge, Louise, Catherine and Dotty. (I am
Catherine's daughter and I took her maiden name a few years back to keep it alive one more
generation. My maiden name was Keffeler.) In 1926, John K. Hartt purchased the land that is now
Pearl Lake and established a permanent summer headquarters (click here to view deed). My
family owned the "cabin" for 60 years and we often referred to it as the "Hartt Family Headquarters".
Summers in Hahn's Peak: Photos from L to R - Catherine (Kay) Irene Hartt (mom) with her grandmother Spragg at
Hahn's Peak Village in 1919 - Cathy Hartt (web site editor) at grandma's cabin (now on the shores of Pearl Lake) 1962
- My two daughters, Stephanie and Erica Ferron, on the shores of Pearl Lake ~ 1980's.
I do not think it was until established the first effective system for low income prenatal care in Montrose County, CO and
won an award from the Colorado State Legislature or my own "pioneering" that I developed a true appreciation for the
work my grandparents did during their lives. Please, come back and visit Pearl Lake History often!