Lake City

Sat, 27 Jul 2002

A genuine miner town, founded in 1874 which is still alive and well today albeit without the miners. Hikers, Bikers, Jeepers, Fishers and other fun loving, adventure seeking tourists have taken over. Tent camping though does not seem a big thing around here. People either have an RV or they sleep in a motel. Camp sites must have full hookup ( some even with phone lines and cable TV) and solid ground so that the RVs do not sink in. Today we saw one which had a hot-tub on the roof. For us tent campers this has the distinct disadvantage that the ground on these sites is almost impenetrable for tent nails.

In Lake City we had an especially hard time, finding a nice campground until we discovered Lake City Campground on the corner of 7th and Bluff Street. They provide shady, grassy (real green grass) tent sites with hot showers for around 15$ a night.

Many things in this town are called cannibal something. This is not because of special eating habits in the San Juan Mountains, but because of a gruesome incident which happened just a year before Lake City was founded. A guy named Alferd (yes this is often miss-spelled) Packer had bragged about his experience in traveling in the region. Some eager prospectors hired him in the Delta region as their guide. Three months later Packer showed up in a town about 80 miles north of Lake City, without his companions. He told that he had been left behind by them because he could not keep up. He appeared to be well fed even though he claimed to have survived on rose pods and roots. Soon after, native Americans, traveling on the same path as Packer and his companions had taken, found strips of human flesh. And by late summer, the decomposing bodies of Packers five companions were discovered a few miles south of Lake City. Packer had cut provisions from the mens chests and thighs. By the time all this was discovered, Packer had left the region, but he was captured 9 years later in Wyoming where he lived under the alias of John Schwartz. He was sentenced to hang on April 13, 1883 by a Lake City court. The sentence was later changed to 45 years of forced labor. However, as his last act, Colorado Governor Charles Thomas pardoned Packer who had only served 5 years by then. Packer died in 1907 having turned vegetarian.

Text and images created 2002 by Tobi Oetiker
(Yes, I do like people writing me about these logs! I sometimes wonder if anybody is reading them.)