Glenwood Springs Culture & History

Couples with History: Glenwood Springs Love Stories

Romance is always in the air in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, where the hot springs aren’t the only attraction. This month, we’re opening the history books to revisit the love stories of some of the town’s most famous couples.

Chief Ouray & Chipeta

Chief Ouray and ChipetaAccording to lore, young Ouray was born on a gloriously clear winter night near Taos, New Mexico, in about 1833. Legend has it meteor showers streaked across the skies and, noting the obvious celestial signs, the elders of the tribe believed Ouray was destined for greatness. They were right. When he was in his late teens, he was introduced to a beautiful Tabeguache Ute maiden named Chipeta. Instantly smitten, Ouray and Chipeta became a couple a short time later. In 1860, after the death of his father, Ouray replaced him and became Chief Ouray, leader of the Ute tribe. Ouray and Chipeta, along with the Ute tribe, regularly traveled through the Roaring Fork Valley, often partaking of the mineral waters and natural steam caves prolific in the area. During his lifetime, with Chipeta by his side, Chief Ouray became known as “a man of peace,” for his intelligence and skill in negotiating with the government to remove the Utes from their ancestral lands. While the chief was an adept diplomat, after the Meeker Massacre in 1879 it was only a matter of time before the Utes were “relocated” to less desirable locations in the West. After he died in 1880, Chipeta continued to lobby for Indian rights and more land for the Utes.

Isaac Cooper & Sarah Field Cooper

Isaac CooperTwenty-five years old and a Union soldier in the Civil War, Isaac Cooper was captured by Confederate Army and incarcerated in a brutal prisoner of war camp in Georgia known as Andersonville. The conditions were gruesome. It is estimated that 3,000 prisoners died there a month. At the end of the war, Cooper was released, weak and ill from starvation. His vigor would never be the same. He returned to his home in Glenwood, Iowa and there he met Sarah Field, whom he married in 1871. Seeking a better climate for health reasons, Isaac and Sarah moved west to the hot springs town, then called Defiance. Even though it was a rough and rowdy place filled with saloons and brothels catering primarily to miners, Isaac had a dream of transforming it into a world-class hot springs destination. Sarah was all for creating a more genteel atmosphere and lobbied the founders to change the name of the town. Thanks to her efforts, Defiance became Glenwood Springs, after the couple’s former hometown in the Midwest. With the support of Sarah, Isaac along with businessman Walter Devereux also embarked on civic projects that brought water, electricity

and the railroad to Glenwood Springs.

John Henry “Doc” Holliday & Mary Katherine “Big Nose Kate” Horony

Mary Katherine "Big Nose Kate"HoronyWhile John probably liked his nickname Doc, which referred to his profession as a dentist, Kate’s moniker was less flattering, suggesting a “nosey” nature or perhaps a larger than normal proboscis. Doc was forced to close his dentistry business due to contracting tuberculosis, a terminal lung illness. For relief from the symptoms, he packed up his things and moved west in pursuit of a dryer climate and better fortunes. The couple met in Fort Griffin, Texas, in 1877, fell in love and soon became nearly inseparable. Theirs was a turbulent affair. They fought often, sometimes violently, but they always made up and forgave one another. A ragtag team they made ends meet; he through dealing and playing cards and she through the world’s oldest profession, prostitution. In Tombstone, Arizona, Doc became infamous for his part in the gunfight at the O.K. Corral which killed three members of the outlaw Cowboy gang. With the law hot on his heels, Doc fled Arizona for Colorado. Kate followed her man to Glenwood Springs but unfortunately shortly after his arrival, Doc took a turn for the worse. According to “Glenwood Springs, The History of a Rocky Mountain Resort,” Kate was by his side and ministered to him in his last days. John Henry Holliday died on Nov. 8, 1887. His remains were interred in Potter’s Field in Linwood Cemetery, though most visitors pay their respects to the legendary gambler and gunslinger at his memorial marker in the cemetery.

As evidenced, love and romance never get old in Colorado’s favorite hot springs town. Learn more and make plans to visit Glenwood Springs today!

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