Saturday, March 13, 2010

Hertha Hill

Coming into Longmont from the east on CO-119, you'll notice a downhill stretch starting where 3rd Avenue branches into town. Look to your right and you'll see a dusty hill that used to be known in Longmont as Hertha Hill. The hill is also easily seen from the sugar factory.

Likely named after a property owner in the area, it was rumored in the 1880's that there was gold in this hill and that an industrious person could find 10 cents worth in a day's work sifting through the gravel.

You can see the Hertha name, east of Longmont, on this property map from 1881, courtesy of the Boulder Ditch Project:

(The sugar factory would later be built on the Secor property in the map above).

And a USGS quadrangle (thanks, from the late 1940's (updated in 1978 with the purple sections) shows the hill:

The road over the hill was steep enough in the early days, requiring four horses to pull a wagon over it. With beets arriving to the factory via wagon, an improvement was needed and in 1917, seven feet were cut out of the hill, reducing the number of horses needed to two.

The Oligarchy ditch (originating up in the McIntosh Lake area) still flows around the base of the hill, like it did in 1917. You can see it in the USGS map above.

From a little farther away (near CO-119 and 119th Street) looking up at Hertha Hill.

An update: The book "They Came to Stay" has a detailed description of the Hertha family, including John Hertha (1836-1901). John Hertha was born in Sax-Coburg, Germany and came to the USA in 1840 with his parents. He arrived in this area 1868 (pre-Longmont), where he homesteaded the property mentioned above. He lost his life to a threshing machine accident where his clothing got caught up on the belt of the machine. John's mother's house is an historic landmark in Longmont on Emery Street.

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