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McPhee Money found in numismatic travels through Colorado

 

By Henry T. Hettger
In July 2 I made a 1,700 mile journey along Colorado’s scenic byways looking for numismatic stories.

After visiting historic Mesa Verde National Park, the staff indicated no coins had been found there as no detectors are permitted in the National Park. Of course, the cliff dwellers of A.D. 1250 in the National Park did not possess coins as the indigenous inhabitants had not learned of coinage. The cliff dwellings made of blocks of stone and clay cement were discovered in 1888 or a few years earlier from autographs in the dwellings, and it became a national park in 1906.

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In nearby Delores, Colo., I explored the Anasazi Heritage Center, an impeccable modern building under the Federal Bureau of Land Management, including descriptions of Native American life, pottery, clothes, homes and cultural ways, as far back as A.D. 500.

In one area devoted to recent times, “McPhee Money” is displayed in two cases. The old town of McPhee used these tokens as a form of money within its bounds, and had a population at its peak of 1400.

The peak year of the company, Montezuma Lumber, was 1927 and by 1950 it was out of business. It failed to modernize using mules to haul large eight wheeled wagons loaded with heavy logs. The lumber “baron” is now remembered with his name on the nearby reservoir. Clearly, it is a colorful period in Colorado history.

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