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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Basalt in Eagle County, Colorado — The American Mountains (Southwest)
 

The Splendid Spud

Basalt History Tour

 
 
The Splendid Spud Marker image. Click for full size.
By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, July 4, 2020
1. The Splendid Spud Marker
Inscription.  In March 1908, the "Potato Special” pulled into the Valley. Staffed by government agents, they promoted the potato, illustrating the latest tools, species and techniques. The local ranchers took notice, and by 1922 more potatoes were grown in the Valley than any other crop. While cattle were a more profitable source of income, almost all locals allocated a part of their lands for potatoes. The soil in the Roaring Fork Valley was perfect for the potato, Well drained, with adequate water for irrigation, the potato thrived and carried many a family through the hard years of the Great Depression. At the peak, the Roaring Fork Valley shipped over 3.5 million pounds of potatoes to other markets each year.

Although a simple crop, the potato required extensive labor, and for most families, everyone worked long hours during the growing and harvesting season. Each spring farmers would select appropriate seed potatoes, cut them for seed and plow their fields in preparation for planting. Before tractors, planting consisted of following a horse drawn plow and dropping seed potatoes at appropriate intervals; the next pass of the
The Splendid Spud Marker Detail image. Click for full size.
By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, July 4, 2020
2. The Splendid Spud Marker Detail
These potato fields were in what is now Blue Lake.
plow would cover them. With the advent of planting machines, seeds would be dropped mechanically, but the process still needed to be watched. Often the youngest child was assigned to make sure every seed dropped in the right place. Through the summer, the plants had to be regularly weeded, but the big work began in the fall after the vines froze and the potatoes ripened. Most farmers used a digger pulled by a horse or tractor, which unearthed the potatoes, leaving them on the surface. The difficult part was getting the potato from the ground to the cellar. This was done by walking the rows and placing each potato into a basket which went into a sack. Workers got paid by the sack. Each hundred-pound sack was lifted onto a wagon, and the worker credited for his sack. In 1930 the pay was 5 to 8 cents per sack. High school kids, many of whom left school for the harvest weeks, could make $1.50 per day, a good wage during the Great Depression years.

[Caption]
Top left: These potato fields were in what is now Blue Lake.
 
Erected by Basalt Regional Heritage Society.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Agriculture.
 
Location. 39° 22.141′ N, 107° 1.887′ W. Marker is in Basalt, Colorado, in Eagle County. Marker
The Splendid Spud Marker Detail image. Click for full size.
By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, July 4, 2020
3. The Splendid Spud Marker Detail
is on Midland Avenue west of Riverside Drive, on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Basalt CO 81621, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 6 other markers are within 14 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Colorado Midland Depot (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named Colorado Midland Depot (about 600 feet away); Colorado Midland Railway (approx. 0.2 miles away); Welcome to the Basalt History Tour (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Snell Building (approx. 0.2 miles away); On the Way to Janeway (approx. 13.1 miles away).
 
The Splendid Spud Marker Detail image. Click for full size.
By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, July 4, 2020
4. The Splendid Spud Marker Detail
The Splendid Spud Marker Detail image. Click for full size.
By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, July 4, 2020
5. The Splendid Spud Marker Detail
The Splendid Spud Marker image. Click for full size.
By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, July 4, 2020
6. The Splendid Spud Marker
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on July 17, 2020. It was originally submitted on July 16, 2020, by Duane Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 51 times since then and 2 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on July 16, 2020, by Duane Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.
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Jan. 16, 2021