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Kremmling at 100

JASON STARR
Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk Kremmling still has a train after 100 years of being a town.
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KREMMLING – More than 100 years ago, a Dillon businessman named Rudolph Kremmling traversed the Lower Blue Valley and set up shop in the town that would eventually bear his name. Today, many Summit County residents make the same trek twice daily, of course, in a fraction of the time.In between there has been a century of history that the town of Kremmling celebrated last weekend during its annual Kremmling Days festival. “I’ve lived here most all my life,” said Therese McElroy, whose grandfather was one of the original homesteaders in the late 1800s. “You’re kind of drawn to come back to these little towns.”McElroy is part of the Grand County Historical Association and helped put together plans for the weekend celebration. On Friday, after a soaking rain and barbecue in the town square, McElroy read off more than 160 names of pioneer families – those that have been in Kremmling since 1920 or before. They were honored by the crowd and would be recognized with ribbons throughout the weekend.Saturday’s festivities included a history tour with current residents playing the part of the town’s founders and historical characters. Many of the impersonators are relatives of the pioneers they played. Throughout the weekend, a pictorial history of town was on display in the town square. Commuting to SummitBernie Murphy owns Murphy’s Food and Spirits in Silverthorne and lives on a 5-acre plot in Kremmling.

Murphy and his wife, Chris, moved from Silverthorne to Kremmling out of medical necessity. But now, despite the 80-mile daily round trip, Murphy says his situation is ideal.The Murphys were forced to move to lower elevation when their daughter was born dangerously premature. Jacey, now 5, was born at 2 pounds, 10 ounces, and “she just wasn’t getting enough oxygen in her blood,” Bernie Murphy said.So the family moved from nearly 9,000 feet to 7,300 feet, and they haven’t looked back.”It’s a good place for a little girl to grow up,” Murphy said. “It’s perfect for us.”Murphy is one of many people who are part of the new trend of commuters living in Kremmling.”People just used to work on ranches and were here, and now there’s probably 60 cars that leave here every morning to go work in Summit County,” McElroy said.It’s not the safest of two-lane highways, that stretch of Highway 9 through the Lower Blue Valley, below the towering Gore Range, but the views can be spectacular.”It’s fine except for the people that drive crazy on that road,” Murphy said. “They pass on turns, on double yellows.”Another danger is the many animals – elk and deer mostly – that often wander onto the road. “There’s a 65 mph speed limit, but (at night), if you’re going 65, you’re overdoing it,” Murphy said.

Early historyBefore Rudolph Kremmling and a handful of other white men came to this area near the confluence of the Blue and Upper Colorado rivers, it was hunting and gathering territory for the Ute and Arapahoe Indian tribes.In 1884, Kremmling, who had a mercantile store in Dillon, opened a trading post in what is now the town of Kremmling. He later applied for a post office and settled on the name Kremmling for the town. The town was incorporated in 1904, and Tracy Tyler became the first mayor. He also took over as postmaster for Kremmling when Kremmling resigned. Most of the early settlers were ranchers, small business owners and miners.Working in townOne of the town’s biggest employers, a lumber yard, closed in the 1960s, and a wafer wood plant had a similar fate in the 1990s – shut down because of environmental violations.Residents today are either small business owners or commuters to Summit County, McElroy said.

The main drag, Highway 40, is lined with a few bars, a super market, a real estate office, and a handful of other locally owned establishments. The fairground, high school and town square are also on the main strip.But businesses come and go, McElroy said.”People try to start businesses, but it’s very hard. Because of Wal-Mart (in Frisco) and Home Depot (in Avon) people go over there to do their shopping,” she said.Present and futureAbout 150 townspeople came out to Friday’s festivities, many in their cowboy hats and Wrangler jeans. In most ways Kremmling has stayed a small, rural community of proud ranchers and businessmen.But McElroy expects it to grow.”Just like every place else, people will come,” she said. “I’ll probably not see it in my time, but I think it will grow.”Jason Starr can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 248, or at jstarr@summitdaily.com.


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