Photo of the group that toured the Estes Park area.
Photo courtesy of the Estes Park Museum.
Left to right: Shep Husted, guide, Gun Griswold, 73 year old judge, Sherman Sage, 63 year old chief of police, Tom Crispin, 38 year old reservation resident and interpreter, Oliver W. Toll, recorder, David Robert Hawkins, a Princeton student.
The Chief Geographer of the Geological Survey asked Miss Harriett W. Vaille, chairwoman of the Nomenclature Committee of the Colorado Mountain Club to organize a group to study indian names in the region. She went to the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming and induced two elderly and prominent Arapahos, who as children had lived in the Estes Park area, to return and point out features they knew with Arapaho names. Harriett then asked a cousin of hers, Oliver W. Toll, to record the tour.
Oliver Toll hired Shep to equip and guide the group around the park. The tour ended at Shep's home at Husted Ranch. The two indians gave Shep a name by the end of the tour, "Sage-Brush Dude".
Oliver W. Toll went on to become a lawyer and during the Nuremburg Trials he played a role in the prosecution of von Ribbentrop.
His brother Roger W. Toll became a superintendent of the Rocky Mountain National Park
Tom Crispin was half Arapaho and half white. He died in 1935 while in office as a councilman for the Arapaho.
For additional information on this tour and its participants, see
Arapaho Names & Trails, Oliver W. Toll
Gun Griswold point of view
Sherman Sage and the Battle of Little Big Horn
Sherman Sage book here and here.
From the Estes Park Trail (local newspaper)
27 January 1922 – Headline and byline: Estes Park Region was Formerly the Playground of the Arapahoe Indians by Clement Yore. Sixty to seventy years ago, the Arapahoe Native Americans were as charmed with Estes Park as is the white race today. It was then a wonder spot, as it is now. Estes Park has a great lore of the Aborigine. Part by part and piece by piece, it is being picked up and stored into books. The Aztecs were here [sic], this much is known by reason of their relics. Amos [sic] Sprague of Estes Park has a bit of true Aztec [sic] pottery which he picked up on the crest of Flattop Mountain. To learn more of the legend and early folk lore of this region, and more detail of the Arapahoe history of Estes Park in particular, the old warriors Gunn (Griswell, in English), Sage (Sherman), and Lighthorse (Tom Christman) were brought to Estes Park during 1914. These old fellows had the noble blood of the Arapahoe chiefs in their veins. They were taken over the old trails where they had spent their youth and middle years. The white man guide that went with them was Shep Husted, almost a Native American himself in his uncanny knowledge of the hills and his love for them. Shep is the best- known guide in this region of Colorado, and the old warriors became fond of him as soon as they met. Only to Shep would they unbosom themselves [which is interesting, since they didn’t speak much English, and Shep wouldn’t have known any Arapahoe], and it was due to this intimacy that much of the old legends and battle and hunt lore has been preserved. Sage was the keenest historian of the trio, and because of his remarkable memory and Shep’s ingenuity in getting him to talk, we are in possession today of the oldArapahoe names of mountains, trails, gulches, rocks, passes, creeks, lakes, etc. Sage called Estes Park “The Circle”, and the famous Deer Mountain “Butte” or “In the Circle”. The Native Americans came in by automobile stage up the wonderful Big Thompson Canyon. As they rode by rock after rock and turn after turn, they glanced at each other, but gave no sign of emotion. The pent-up flood of past days wept o’er them and they chattered away in Arapahoe at a hysterical rate. When the village of Estes Park was reached they refused to talk, and gave themselves over to absolute silence. Shep took them up to the old Native American trail, now a road, to Longs Peak Inn, where after a night beside a log fire and a long “peace talk” with Enos Mills, the Native Americans on the following day were very anxious to travel and to tell all they knew. They took the trail in true Native American fashion, with light luggage and no one with them but their friend and guide. From Longs Peak Inn they went to Marys Lake, which was the most desired of all the old summer camps. Here the old fellows easily found familiar rocks which had formed fire places and tepee sites. The sight of those old warriors recalling the spot where they had taken part in a festival dance or a council of war was one of the most impressive epochs in their entire career. They pointed out several “dance rings” to Shep, where in their youth they and their companions had engaged in dances for hours at a time. These dances were given to celebrate a great buffalo hunt or an especially good catch of trout or a great grouse or sage hen kill. Any pretense was sufficient for a dance, and always was the affair made a feast and a festival of honor. These rings are clearly defined today. Here the earth is hard packed from contact with hundreds of dancing feet, hours at a time, and year after year. Scarcely any grass grows in the path of the dancers, even after the lapse of years that has passed since the great last dance. The fire that was always in the center of the ring discolored the soil, so that this discoloration is evident now. The Arapahoes were both plains and mountain Native Americans, and their habits and abilities are best found and clearly outlines in the relics and the history they left in this part of Colorado. Their one mania of education was memory training. Exquisite evidence of their memory was had on the trip made with Shep, when every once and a while they would stop each other and point out a stone or a tree or a landmark, and then and there recall some most familiar and historical event of importance. In the telling of their history, one would not depart from the tale of the other even down to the most minute detail. Often before points of trail were reached, the Native Americans would tell Shep how such and such a rock or point or stream would look, and when that place was reached, the Native American’s description was found to be perfect. Though very old, these great Native Americans were like schoolboys, and when they came to a ptarmigan they would quickly pick up a stone, and despite the protest of Shep Husted, they would fling it overhanded as straight as a die, and occasionally they knocked down a bird or two in this fashion. Nothing could smother the wild awakening of their youth. The mountain regions of the Arapahoes, according to Sage, included Estes Park, North Park, and Middle Park, or that region between the plains and the Rocky Mountain National Park range of the Rocky Mountains to the west, and from the Arapahoe Peaks on the south to a point due north about 100 miles, to what is south Wyoming today. They had three entrances to the Estes Park district. They came up the Big Thompson Canyon [interesting, since this would have been difficult to enter at its east end] or through the Cache la Poudre Valley, or up what is now called the St. Vrain River. The most used entrance into Estes Park was over a trail they called the “Big Pipe”. This name was derived from a large sentinel rock now called Eagle Rock, located at the north end of Estes Park six miles from the village. The Little Pipe Trail ran off the Big Pipe Trail via Fish Creek at the site of the old English Hotel built by that great yachtsman and sportsman, Lord Dunraven. This trail was used to go over to Marys Lake and Longs Peak, upon the top of which were built the eagle traps where the Arapahoe secured his war feathers [although no evidence of such traps was found by the Powell expedition in 1868], then envy of all Native Americans. Little Pipe Trail led back from Longs Peak past Marys Lake down the very road so much motored over today to the old trail (which is now the famous High Drive), thence up through Moraine Park and onto the “Child Trail” in Beaver Park. (Continued next week)
3 February 1922 – Headline and byline: Estes Park Region was Formerly the Playground of the Arapahoe Indians by Clement Yore. (Continued from last week) The Child Trail” followed the very tops of a row of hills (all above 11,000 feet) called Trail Ridge, entirely across the range, or Continental Divide. This trail was so named because over it went the women and children and old men. It is now considered a good ride for tough tourists on horseback. The warriors scorned the “Child Trail”, for they used only one route, and that was over treacherous “Flattop” Mountain. Old Sage naively told Shep Husted about this fact in a boastful manner. “We run ’em over him mountain – no walk him.” Just as one approaches the main part of “Child Trail” is the old natural fort, off to the left, beside the Hondius Ranch. The fort is made of the crest of a small but very precipitous hill. Here was fought one of the important battles between the Arapahoes and the Apaches. Sage said the following was the true account of this battle. His eyes glowed and his companions grunted their approval of the tale. Ever and anon all three would indicate by gestures how such and such a warrior fought. The Apaches came into Estes Park, somewhere in the early 1850s on the warpath, in search for the Arapahoes. They learned that the Arapahoes were over the range, and accordingly looked around for a fortified position. They found the natural fort, and strengthened it by adding a rock or boulder breastwork. Here they waited, for they knew the Arapahoes must come back by the “Child Trail”. It was a complete ambush, and the Apaches felt secure it in, however, some Arapahoe warriors, on top of Flattop Mountain, saw the smoke from an Apache campfire and carried the news to the remainder of the Arapahoes on the other side of the mountain. The fighting men made a detour south of Longs Peak, came through what is now Buchanan’s Pass, and attacked the fort from the east side. The Apaches were driven into Horseshoe Park with great slaughter. Some of the stones thrown up as breastworks by the Apaches stood for years on the old fort wall, now many stones are to be seen lying about, while the fort proper, with remnants of the Apache additions, can to this day be readily discerned. Dog Trail was to the Native Americans what the famous Fall River Road will be to the automobilist when completed [sic, it had been completed and driven over in the fall of 1920, although didn’t start carrying significant traffic until July 1921]. Over this trail dog trains packed the winter’s game supply, and carried summer camp equipment into Middle Park. The Arapahoe was an expert in the manufacture of snowshoes of the web order. His shoes were made of ironwood frames and self-tanned rawhide. The old Native American pointed out spots where they used to gather the ironwood brush. Huge quantities of this tough underbrush still about all over this region. The Native Americans also made their tepees from skins and hides secured and tanned in this locality. The buffalo trap, a very unique institution of the Arapahoe, was located between “The Orchard” and “Long Gulch” near the present site of Lester’s Hotel. The “trap” was made from natural convergence of the mountains to an opening or pass of about ten feet wide. The squaws, children, and old men and some of the less expert marksmen drove the game, principally buffalo, into the trap, where the finest shots killed as much fresh meat as the Native Americans needed. The government has learned a great deal from this visit of the Native Americans to Estes Park, for instance, some of their names have been adopted by the government, and new maps, with these names substituted for old ones, are in the process of manufacture. Longs Peak and Mt. Meeker, which are within a few hundred feet of the same height, were called by the Native Americans “The Two Guides”, because they were so close to each other, and could be seen towering above all other mountains, and hence were used to guide the Arapahoes, whether on plains or in the mountains. Mount Ypsilon, Mount Fairchild, and Hague’s Peak on the Mummy Range were called the “White Owls” because of the eternal banks of snow on their slopes making them whiter than other mountains. Prospect Mountain was called “No Shirt” Mountain, because after a battle on this mountain, they found a dead white man [sic, is there any evidence of any white men being physically present in Estes Park at this time?] who wore no shirt. Stone Peaks and Mt. Julian were called “Bear Paws”. The Rabbit Ear Range was called “The Never Summer Range” because frost existed here every morning of the year. Saw Tooth Mountain in the Rabbit Ear Range was called the “Mauchau Crags”, meaning “The Eagles’ Nest”. “Neota”, meaning “Deer Heart” is the name of a mountain in the Medicine Bow Range, and when seen from the “Never Summer Range” at a great distance, looks exactly like the heart of a deer. Sage pointed out this peculiar mountain to Shep Husted from “Thunder Pass” in the “Never Summer Range”. “Red Mountain” was called “Indian Paint Mountain” because it furnished the material with which the Arapahoes prepared their war paint. A similar material in blue was obtained in Wyoming. The colors of the Arapahoes were red and blue. These were easily mixed in water, and were extremely long-lived colors. “Thunder Pass” is to be seen in the “Never Summer Range” near the “Michigan River”. The early white man called it Lula [sic, suggest Lulu] Pass after an old mining camp of that name. This pass is a great superstition to the Arapahoes. They believe firmly that anyone going through this pass during a storm will die. Shep Husted tried his best, without avail, to get the Native Americans to pass through during a severe thunderstorm. Old Sage only shook his head and said, “Me tepee-no go-bad.” At the Michigan River close by Thunder Pass are situated the stone monuments built by the Arapahoes as trail marks. These meant “Keep to the right going either way.” These monuments were built above timberline. A tree was shown at this point to Shep Husted that had been felled with a stone hatchet to fall so that it would serve as a bridge over Michigan River for the women and children. Trail monuments were pointed out by the Native Americans all down the North Fork of Grand River, and around Cache la Poudre Lakes, and beside Specimen Mountain. In this region was fought another important battle, in fact, some four or five battlefields were pointed out in this very neighborhood. These fights had been fought with the Utes, who came into this part of the Arapahoe territory for the purpose of killing Rocky Mountain, or Big Horn, Sheep. “Specimen Mountain”, an extinct volcano now being studied by the government geologic experts, was a reverent thing to old Sage. He laid ten stones on the ground, and told Shep Husted that his forefathers had handed down the story that the mountain had smoked 1000 years ago. The trees on the slopes of Specimen Mountain are estimated to be one thousand years old, so that it is almost certain the mountain has not been active seriously for less than this length of time. The winter camp of the Arapahoes was on what is now “Hedrick’s Flats” on the Grand River, seven miles north of Grand Lake, which is over the range from Estes Park. Here one may see today 35 very clearly marked tepee rings. One of these rings is so large that Sage said 100 Native Americans formerly slept in it with comfort. There is a dog tepee ring here also. The tepees were banked with heavy stones, and thus these rings exist today just as they did when the Arapahoe women took down the tepees for the last time some 50 years ago. All tepee doors are set directly toward the east. This is a religion with the Arapahoes, and Shep Husted, while far above timberline one night during a storm, was forced to camp quickly. The idea struck him to set the tepee not directly east, but rather southeast. He did so, and then watched old Sage and Gunn. They were nervous, and it was not very long before the two old men without compass or even star to guide them arose and, pulling up the tent stakes, set the door as squarely toward the east as though they had determined the direction with an accurate instrument. It was at Hedrick’s Flats that the spring sports were held. These consisted of running races, wrestling, jumping, ball playing, pony riding, etc. There was a regular formality, and honor was bestowed upon the victors. East of Grand Lake, at what is now called “Sage Brush Flats”, Sage told Shep Husted they had a big battle with the Utes. It was here that “Red Wolf”, the greatest of all Arapahoe chieftains, was seriously wounded. The Utes were defeated, and Red Wolf was sewed up in a buffalo skin and dragged over the snow and ice many dozens of miles into North Park through as bitter snow and cold as Sage said he ever experienced. The medicine man saved Red Wolf’s life, but Sage kept telling Red Wolf that the Utes were routed and killed, and this news constantly revived the great warrior. On the west side of the range, the old Native Americans were almost as happy as when they were in Estes Park, and they filled Shep Husted’s notebooks with wonderful descriptions. When it came time to return to Estes Park, and the Native Americans realized that they were looking perhaps for the last time on their favorite lands, they grew very mellow indeed. On a small tributary of the North Inlet River, after Flattop had been crossed, Sage called Shep Husted to one side and asked him if that stream had a white man’s name. “Shep Husted said “No.” “I call him Indian Creek.” Then he turned and pointed to a nearby waterfall and began a good Arapahoe war dance. “I call him War Dance Falls.” The United States government has obeyed that old barbarian [sic, the word “resident” is more accurate, and less offensive], his names for the stream and the waterfalls have been adopted. On the last night out, Sage grew sentimental, and sweeping his hand over all the mountains and valleys, he said to Shep Husted, “Old time, Native American all time fight, shoot, hunt, kill ’em all time. Now all time love – all time plenty peace [sic, this seems more romantic than authentic].” What an epic that old philosopher left for the world. What a preachment with which to lure the thousands who are as filled with the love of the beautiful as was Sage and Gunn and Tom Christman – the Arapahoes.