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Come Back to Our Valley

The very early history of the Mancos Valley has been fairly well documented but it does need pieced together.

It was 1873 and Captain John Moss was out scouting for mining camps for the Parrot Brothers of San Francisco. By chance he ran into four men who had discovered the Comstock mine up La Plata Canyon. He checked it out and in the company of one of the men, Almarion Root, he headed for San Francisco to let the Parrot Brothers know what he had found. They advanced him money and the next spring he took off with a party of miners. Among the party were James Ratliff, Almarion Root, Dick Giles, John Brewer and Fred Franks.

In July of 1874 the party made it to the Mancos Valley. It so impressed the miners that they decided when they were through with the contract with John Moss they would settle in that valley.

Captain Moss had other ideas and had the men begin prospecting up Cherry Creek and Starvation Creek. It didnít take Captain Moss long to decide that with all the good samples and the Comstock mine up La Plata Canyon that he would plot out a town for the Parrot Brothers. He would return the following year and actually establish Parrot City near the mouth of La Plata Canyon (north of Hesperus). It was a good investment for the Parrot Brothers as Parrot City grew fast and became the county seat for the area that is now encompassed by La Plata and Montezuma counties.

In the fall of 1874, John Moss and his company of miners decided to return to the Mancos Valley for the winter. They were in Thompson Park, the small valley east of Mancos Hill, when the going got tough. Moss made the decision to go for food so he and two of the miners took off, leaving a group of men to fend for themselves to avoid starvation.

Moss was gone for six weeks and had ended up going all the way to Tierra Amarillo, New Mexico, for supplies. In the meantime, the remaining party of miners came into dire straits. Then to make matters worse, Dick Giles accidentally shot himself in the neck, thus the miners lost the ability to move camp. That was how Starvation Creek got its name.

In the spring of 1875, most of the party of miners, including Dick Giles, who had recovered from his gunshot wound, settled in the Mancos Valley. Giles and Brewer built the first log cabin in the valley on property that would later become the Menefee place. Ratliff located where Tom and Sandy Weaver live. Root took the land now owned by Glen Humiston. Three other miners also settled in the Valley. Captain Moss made it back to San Francisco and also back to Parrot City, which quickly attracted mining men and businesses.

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