These little chapters in the history of Colorado High Strangeness appeared in the "Colorado Weekly Chieftain," December 15, 1870:
That there exists in the mountains of Colorado beasts and animals unknown to the devotes of science, there cannot be the least shadow of a doubt. We have just learned of a trapper on the Greenhorn, a stream about twenty miles south of Pueblo, who, while hunting recently for elk and deer, saw a strange animal at the sight of which he was not only astonished but at first it caused him great fear.The newspaper was just warming up. Elsewhere on the same page was a far more bizarre tale:
The hunter was, however, in a position that afforded him protection, and after the first surprise and he had gained an assurance of his safety, he watched the beast, and the following is the description he gives of the thing: It was larger than an ox, and of a kind of mouse color, with a skin varied with light stripes similar to those of a zebra. Its head favored that of a rhinoceros, but much larger, and a bushy tail like that of a fox. The animal fed on grass, weeds, &c., and finally disappeared, crossing the creek and going up the mountains where it is likely the brute has a habitation of some kind. The next day our informant examined the tracks of the singular looking animal, and found them to be like those of a horse, but a great deal larger. We cannot but believe the assertions of the trapper to be entirely true, as the whole story is fully corroborated by Mr. Matt Riddlenarger, who lives in that neighborhood, and who has seen the same beast or one like it. We think that by the next issue of our paper we will be able to give more authentic information on this mater, as we learn that a posse of gentlemen are now in pursuit of this seeming monstrosity, and who are determined to capture or kill the animal, and thus give to the world and science another proof that there are still strange animals in existence which, although scarce, are not entirely extinct.
TRINIDAD, C.T., Dec. 11, 1870, EDITOR CHIEFTAIN:—I have been sojourning a few days in this quiet little burg, and have visited all the points of interest in the neighborhood, among which was the celebrated haunted ground, on San Francisco creek, about fifteen miles southeast of here. The manifestations as related to me by Uncle Billy Bransford, are more wonderful than anything ever before heard of.Unfortunately, I was unable to find any more about what promised to be a first-rate haunting.
A short time ago, while Juan Vasques, a farmer on the creek, was digging a foundation for a residence, he struck an immense quantity of bones, which upon examination proved to be human remains, and of a very large size. Through superstition, operations were suspended, and that night was coinmenced the work of the ghosts. Loud and distinct knocks were heard upon the doors and roofs of all the houses in the neighborhood, and have continued every few nights since then.
The son of Mr. Bransford, a young man of twenty years of age, says he saw, standing on the threshold of his door, the form of an Indian chief, dressed in white and wearing a costume different from any he has ever seen; he turned in affright to call a friend who was sleeping in the room, but upon looking, it had vanished. The same form was seen the following evening, by a Mexican girl who resides farther up the creek. And now comes the most singular and most unaccountable sensation of all. The same night that the ghost made his appearance, the family were all sitting by the fire place, conversing about the nocturnal visitors, when suddenly two sticks of wood which were burning, commenced to dance; then one as if shot from a gun, went up the chimney, and was found in a few minutes about thirty yards from the house.
All of the above can be vouched for by at least twenty persons. In connection with the above, and which has never yet been accounted for is the following: About midway between the dwellings of Mr. Bransford and Juan Vasquez, is two small columns of smoke constantly issuing from the ground. It is not steam, and does not appear to because by chemical action. I will close this article until further investigation, hoping that the scientific gentlemen, now on a visit to Colorado, will give it their attention and render us a solution of the above facts. JAY G. KAY.