Keeping the Peace
“The trail is well worn, and the peeled trees show that the valley has been much frequented by (Ute) Indians.”
Gold was discovered in the San Juan Mountains in the late 1860s leading to a rush of miners. Tension rose between the miners seeking gold and the Ute Indians who lived and hunted in the mountains. As a result, the U. S. Government negotiated the Brunot Treaty in 1873 with Chief Ouray and the Weminuche Ute.
“At this point we passed the Great Gate, a rift in a spar sweeping around from range to range across the calley.” -- Lt. E. H. Ruffner, Corps of Engineers, Reconnaissance in the Ute Country, 1873
That same year, the military sent Lt. E. H. Ruffner into the San Juan Mountains to document mining operations in Southern Colorado and evaluate the effectiveness of the Brunot Treaty. Ruffner noted, “While at Camp 47 we were visited by many western Utes, mostly well armed, well mounted, and well dressed; uncommonly clean, smiling and civil; short men, with broad muscular shoulders.”